Young Earth or Old? The Debate That Divides Christians — But Shouldn’t

By Tom Gilson Published on July 8, 2018

Christians — mostly in Evangelical circles — are seriously divided over a hot and long-lasting controversy. It has nothing to do with sex, politics or money, yet it’s alienated young people, it’s divided churches, and it drives many from the faith.

That controversy is over the way we should understand the first pages of Genesis, and the related information we can obtain from nature. Most of the heat on the ground comes from people who don’t know the issues well enough to form their own opinion. That includes me. And — unless you’re a specialist in the field — it includes you, too. 

And yet many not only form opinions. They form dogmas. And they pronounce judgment on others who disagree. 

Young Earth or Old?

People on one side typically say the debate is all about whether we really believe what the Bible says, or whether we’re “compromisers” instead. There’s only one way to interpret the days of Genesis 1, they say: as 24-hour Earth days, all occurring within the last 10,000 years or so. Any other reading on it isn’t just wrong; it’s disrespectful toward the Bible’s truth and authority. This  “young earth” view also says that any evidence from science for an older universe is either misleading or misinterpreted.

But this isn’t an argument between believers and unbelievers. That’s a real controversy, yes; but it’s a different one. This one is within the Church.

So people on the other side insist they do believe the Bible, they just don’t think the Bible intends us to interpret Genesis 1 as teaching six 24-hour creation days. People in this “old earth” group agree that God created everything. They believe Genesis 1 is true, except we shouldn’t interpret the days in a literal 24-hour day sense — because that’s not what it intends to say. Most believe the Genesis 2 and 3 account of human origins and the Fall. And they also believe what science says about the age of the universe.

Divisive Criticism

I can’t tell you how often I’ve run into this debate, or how much heat it’s generated. It divided Christians on campus when I was in college more than 40 years ago. It hasn’t cooled down one degree since.

Just a few years ago I was at an Evangelical Philosophical Society conference in Atlanta. A man I’d never met before saw my name tag, and realized I worked with a certain influential ministry. He approached me and practically begged with me, “Would you please, please do what you can to stop these young-earth creationists? They’re driving people away from Christianity! They’re killing our witness!”

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Young-earthers are even more likely to criticize old-earth believers. I had a friend I’ll call Mark. Mark and I shared many church fellowship meals together, and we even did some church-based teaching together. Then he found out I’m not a young-earther. From that point forward he doubted my whole faith in Christ. It took him a year or two until he finally came back and told me, “You know, Tom, I’m starting to believe again you really do believe in the Bible after all.”

He was convinced there was only one way to believe the Bible: the young-earth way. That alone was enough — in spite of everything else he knew about me — to make him doubt I was really a Christian.

Barriers like that kill our witness. No one in the Church has any business raising them. And although young-earthers often say this is about heading off biblical “compromise,” very often they’re wrong about that. 

A Case Made From Scripture

Hugh Ross, founder of Reasons to Believe, is the most prominent old-earth proponent. He’s an astrophysicist, and he’s also a pastor. When he speaks science, he speaks from knowledge and respect. When he speaks Bible he does the same. His biblical reasoning is, well, biblical reasoningnot compromise. He studies the whole context, and makes a faithful attempt to be true to what Scripture intends to say. 

I read another book from a new author the other day, Tom Gender, whose case for an old earth is mostly based on Hebrew verb constructions.

Readers can approach these views of in either of two ways. One is to write them off immediately as unfaithful to the text. The other is to wonder: Are they right or not? Only a very few readers would know the original language and context well enough to agree or disagree knowledgeably.

Gender could certainly be wrong. So could Hugh Ross. So could Ken Ham.

It’s common among young-earthers to point to the “plain text of the language” as their authority. “Just read what’s there!” they’ll say. It can’t be that simple, though, for it leaves two huge questions unanswered. Gender points us to one of them: The meaning in English translation might not be exactly what it is in the original Hebrew. An even greater issue is that it completely ignores the historic context in which it was first written and first read. 

Most people who write old-earthers as unfaithful to Scripture, not having studied the original language and the historical context, simply haven’t worked through the issue well enough to know what they’re talking about. They’re rushing toward dogma, in the worst sense of the word.

Rushing to Ill-Informed Judgment

So I wonder how someone like Mark would read these authors. He certainly did take a dogmatic position with me — even though the question has always required a high level of expertise in multiple fields, including biblical Hebrew, Ancient Near East literature and culture, and four or five major branches of science. He was less well-read in it than I was. Yet still he judged me.

That was wrong. It was a premature conclusion based on not enough knowledge, and it was toxic to our relationship. And what happened between the two of us was just a microcosm of what’s happened in the Church overall — especially among white Evangelicals — across several decades now.

Hugh Ross could be wrong. So could Ken Ham, founder of Answers in Genesis and the Creation Museum. I sat with one of his top co-leaders in his office at that museum a few years ago, explaining how I wasn’t ready to make dogmatic young-earth assertions. Even if their view were right, it would require an expert’s knowledge to say so with such certainty. He said, “But Tom, you do know enough! It’s right there in Genesis!”  Which is to say, it’s there in the English translation without historical context. Which is inadequate.

That same leader invited me several times on a rafting trip down the Grand Canyon, where young-earth geologists would show how it all happened through the Flood. I declined, saying, “I’m not a geologist. I would begin the trip not knowing how to assess your geological arguments, and I would end it not knowing how to assess them. I don’t need to play the game of pretending to get it in between.”

Needed: Humility

We need humility in this. We need to quit pretending we have expert knowledge.

I say we all need some humility in this. Very few of us are experts; we need to quit pretending we have expert knowledge. I’m pretty sure old-earth creationism is true, but I know I could be wrong. I’ve known a few young-earth creationists who also recognize they could be wrong.

Unfortunately, I’ve also seen plenty of young-earth creationists say that those who disagree can’t really be faithful believers in the Bible. That just isn’t true, and it doesn’t help church unity one bit.

Ultimately I hope we’ll all know the truth of creation so clearly, every Bible-believer will be able to agree on it. I don’t expect that to happen very soon. Until then, my one great request to us all is to treat the question with the humility it calls for. It’s still a matter of study, so let the specialists study it.

While they do that, it’s still an open question. Treat it that way. Don’t divide over it. It separates us, and it drives people from the faith.

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  • Irene Neuner

    “And they also believe what science says about the age of the universe.”

    Tom, this same science would place death before the fall. For example the ‘Jurassic age’ with dead dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals not only came before man but the Fall.

    In actuality assumptions must be made to date both the universe and the geological column. Assumptions such as uniformitarianism. What science says about the age of the earth is not actually based on what scientists know but what scientists think.

    • I’m aware of the question of the death before the Fall, Irene. So are the biblically-minded old-earth creationist authors I’ve referred to here. There isn’t just one possible answer to these questions.

      Granted, assumptions are involved in all kinds of study. Please do not assume that old-earth creationists are unaware of this. Thanks.

      • Kevin Quillen

        Tom, are you aware of the evidence for man and dinosaurs living at the same time? There is considerable evidence.

        • Trilemma

          That is evidence that certain species of dinosaurs didn’t go extinct as long ago as believed. Today’s dinosaurs are called birds.

          • Right. Many scientists are saying that now. But I think the previous discussion was about the animals we have traditionally called “dinosaurs.”

            Soft tissue in dinosaur bones? I’m very intrigued by what I’ve seen on that. It’s part of what makes this such an interesting, open question!

          • Trilemma

            Based on ancient artwork, the animals that have traditionally been called dinosaurs may have gone fully extinct relatively recently as in hundreds or maybe a few thousand years ago. Soft tissue in dinosaur bones is intriguing. I haven’t kept up with any developments on that but I wonder if any DNA has been or will be found. It is an interesting, open question and I agree with you in that it’s best if everyone keeps an open mind, whether they’re evolutionists or old or young Earth creationists. I’ve changed my mind several times and may yet change it again.

          • Kevin Quillen

            dinos turned into birds. LOL

          • Trilemma

            Dinosaurs didn’t just turn into birds. Birds were evolved from dinosaurs like motorcycles were evolved from bicycles.

          • GLT

            “Birds were evolved from dinosaurs like motorcycles were evolved from bicycles.”

            Too funny, motorcycles did not evolve from bicycles, both were intelligently designed using common elements.

          • Trilemma

            Bicycles and motorcycles were not created on the same day. Bicycles were created first and they were used as the basis for creating motorcycles.

          • GLT

            “Bicycles and motorcycles were not created on the same day.”

            This could not be more irrelevant. The motorcycle did not evolve from the bicycle, both were designed by an intelligent engineer who used similar materials and engineering concepts.

            Besides, your argument is based on the ambiguous nature of the term ‘evolution’. Concepts, ideas and designs can evolve but that use of the term is not equivalent to the use of the term in relation to biological evolution. Biological evolution is said to be a blind, mindless process with no goal or specific design in mind. The production of both the bicycle and the motorcycle are just the opposite.

          • Trilemma

            When I said, “Birds were evolved from dinosaurs like motorcycles were evolved from bicycles,” I used “evolved” in the exact same sense in both cases. God brought dinosaurs into existence before birds just as humans brought bicycles into existence before motorcycles. God engineered birds from dinosaurs just as humans engineered motorcycles from bicycles.

          • GLT

            “God engineered birds from dinosaurs just as humans engineered motorcycles from bicycles.”

            Now you’re claiming both were engineered. You’ve got to make up your mind, were they engineered or did they evolve?

            As for God engineering birds from dinosaurs, do you have any evidence, empirical or Biblical to support that claim?

          • Trilemma

            I didn’t say they evolved I said they were evolved as in engineered. The evidence is the fossil record that shows a progression of species over time with a lack of intermediates.

          • GLT

            “I didn’t say they evolved I said they were evolved as in engineered.”

            Perhaps you should learn to use the language in a more precise manner.

            “The evidence is the fossil record that shows a progression of species over time with a lack of intermediates.”

            The fossil record shows stasis, not change. Birds have always been birds, reptiles have always been reptiles. How is this evidence that dinosaurs ‘were evolved’ into birds?

          • Trilemma

            The fossil record shows dinosaurs existed long before birds. It also shows dinosaurs developing avian bones, feathers and avian respiration. The lack of intermediate fossils is evidence that birds couldn’t have evolved with tiny incremental mutations.

          • GLT

            “The fossil record shows dinosaurs existed long before birds.”

            Really? Then how did theropod dinosaurs eat them for lunch? Great trick, dining out on a creature that did not yet exist. That could be a simple solution to potential starvation, just eat what will come into existence sometime in the future.

            “The lack of intermediate fossils is evidence that birds couldn’t have evolved with tiny incremental mutations.”

            The lack of intermediate fossils means there was no evolutionary transition. A dinosaur could not change into a bird without passing through intermediate stages. Seriously, I would like to know where you come up with these gems?

          • Trilemma

            Just as humans and chimps have a common ape ancestor, birds and the velociraptos that ate birds have a common theropod ancestor.

            A dinosaur was changed into a bird without intermediate stages the same way a bicycle was changed into a motorcycle without intermediate stages.

          • swordfish

            Dinosaur to bird transitional fossils:

            Anchiornis ~155 million years ago
            Although
            many feathered dinosaurs are known, Anchiornis is the first to be found
            that probably predates Archaeopteryx. The feathers were “not obviously
            flight-adapted” (Hu et al, 2009).

            Archaeopteryx ~145 mya
            The
            famous Archaeopteryx had feathers and was probably capable of at least
            gliding, but it also had dinosaur-like teeth, claws, and a long bony
            tail. Its skeleton was “almost identical to that of some theropod
            dinosaurs” (Coyne, 2009). Precisely how closely related it is to the
            main line of bird evolution remains the subject of controversy (Xu et
            al, 2011).

            Confuciusornis ~125 mya
            Confuciusornis had a
            bird-like tail and a pygostyle, which is a feature of modern birds. It
            retained dinosaur-like claws (Prothero, 2007). It had strong shoulder
            bones, but was probably not capable of true flapping flight (Senter,
            2006). It may have glided. It is the earliest known bird with a
            toothless beak, but other lineages continued to have teeth for a long
            time.

            Sinornis ~110 mya?
            Sinornis “still had teeth, an
            unfused tarsometatarsus, and an unfused pelvis” (Prothero, 2007) but
            resembled modern birds in other ways, with reduced vertebrae, a flexible
            wishbone, a shoulder joint adapted for flying, and hand bones fused
            into a carpometacarpus (Prothero, 2007).

            Vorona ~80 mya?
            The
            legs of Vorona are all that we have (Benton, 2005), but they show a
            combination of bird characteristics and maniraptoran (dinosaur)
            characteristics (Forster et al, 1996).

            Ichthyornis ~80 mya
            A strong flyer, Ichthyornis was very nearly a modern bird (Prothero, 2007), and yet it still had teeth.

          • GLT

            “Dinosaur to bird transitional fossils:”

            Nice list. Now all you need to do is provide irrefutable, empirical evidence showing these creatures were in fact dinosaurs transitioning to birds and not simply unique, now extinct, creatures. Can you provide such empirical evidence or are you simply following the presuppositions of some evolutionists? Dr. Allan Feduccia, a leading ornithologist and evolutionist, would not support your argument. So, rather than argue with me over this, why not talk to him? His arguments would not be influenced by creationist bias as you believe mine to be.

          • swordfish

            “Dr. Allan Feduccia, a leading ornithologist and evolutionist, would not support your argument.”

            Actually, he would. He believes birds evolved from dinosaurs, just not the specific species (therapods) which are generally believed to be the ancestors of birds.

            Also, I note here that you casually dismiss almost all experts in biology, geology and cosmolgy but wheel out an expert you (wrongly) think supports your case when it suits you. Have you heard of confirmation bias?

            As for these transitional species being just uniques species, where is your evidence for that? Where did they come from if not other species – out of thin air?

          • GLT

            “He believes birds evolved from dinosaurs, just not the specific species (therapods) which are generally believed to be the ancestors of birds.”

            Care to provide references?

            “Where did they come from if not other species – out of thin air?”

            Funny you should say that as that is exactly what evolution expects you to believe. That is certainly not what Christians believe so you had best answer that question yourself.

            “I note here that you casually dismiss almost all experts in biology, geology and cosmolgy,…”

            So, you’re back to using the fallacy of appealing to the majority, yet again. Do you not ever learn? Also, take note of the fact you said almost all experts, that would indicate you admit the fact there are some who do not agree with you or this position. So, what makes you and your gang of experts right and everybody else wrong? In case you’re wondering, this is the point at which you need to provide evidence to support your claims. However, I am not optimistic any such thing will be forthcoming as it has never come before.

          • swordfish

            “Care to provide references?”

            From TalkOrigins:

            “Alan Feduccia who opposes the idea that birds are descended from dinosaurs and instead argues that birds are descended from non-dinosaur archosaurs (a taxon that includes dinosaurs) is often quoted by evolution deniers. Feduccia is a qualified scientist and should not be just dismissed, but his views are in an extreme minority within the scientific community. It is simply bad reasoning for the evolution deniers to use Feduccia’s writing disagreeing with conventional ideas of bird evolution while ignoring the many experts that disagree with him.”

            And the point is that he is an evolutionary biologist, so you can’t use him as a source if you don’t accept evolution, as you think he’s wrong about the whole thing anyway.

            [Me: Where did they (transitional species) come from if not other species – out of thin air?]

            “Funny you should say that as that is exactly what evolution expects you to believe.”

            No, it isn’t Evolution says they came from their parents. Creationists say that God created them (already fossilised?) in a puff of smoke like a cheap magician.

            “So, you’re back to using the fallacy of appealing to the majority, yet again. Do you not ever learn?”

            Appealing to mainstream science ISN’T a fallacy – where do you get these idiotic ideas from? Scientific knowledge is based on EVIDENCE, not a show of hands.

          • swordfish

            Talking snakes. LOL

          • GLT

            “Today’s dinosaurs are called birds.”

            Really, how about some evidence to support this idea? Got anything in the form of sound, logical arguments which demonstrate T. Rex is now a chicken?

        • John Connor

          There is absolutely zero evidence of man having lived during the age of the dinosaur.

          • Kevin Quillen

            have you investigated for yourself? how do you explain the temple with stegosaurus(I think) carved into the stone in Thailand(I think)? How about all the carvings found in central America depicting dinos and man together? Drawings abound. Fossilized footprints of man and dino together? I suppose all are fakes. Or maybe the descriptions were passed down through history by grandfathers telling stories? Could you imagine what something would look like if the description was passed down by word of mouth? Do you think the original form would keep its integrity? The carvings are perfect replications of what we know to be real animals. Only one explanation. Man saw dinosaurs. How about “dragon” stories throughout history? What were dragons? answer….dinosaurs. The word dinosaur was not even coined until the mid 19th century, before then they were called dragons.

          • John Connor

            Nonsense but keep being deluded

          • swordfish

            What about the pictures carved into ancient temples which look like aliens piloting UFOs? Do they make you think that aliens visited the Earth and buried a stargate under the pyramids?

            We have many reliable methods of dating fossils, all of which place them millions of years ago. There is absolutely zero possibility that dinosaurs lived alongside people.

          • GLT

            “There is absolutely zero evidence of man having lived during the age of the dinosaur.”

            What evidence do you have to support this claim? Where is your evidence that demonstrates there is no evidence?

          • swordfish

            Another futile attempt to reverse the burden of proof. How can one have evidence of a lack of evidence? All dating methods place dinosaurs at least 65 million years ago. All dating methods put us well after that. If you want to dispute this, please present evidence that either dinosaurs lived much more recently or humans lived much further back in the past.

          • GLT

            “Another futile attempt to reverse the burden of proof.”

            I’m not reversing the burden of proof at all. You made a claim and I simply asked you to back it up with evidence. Can you do that or not?

            “please present evidence that either dinosaurs lived much more recently,…”

            Soft tissue in dinosaur bones does that quite nicely. Soft tissue of the type that has now been found on several occasions could not possibly survive for 65 million years. The only logical, scientifically supported conclusion is that the creature in question did not die 65 million years ago but was actually alive only a few thousand years ago at the most.

            Try to spin the facts all you want, you are simply whistling past the graveyard.

          • swordfish

            Asking John Connor, myself, or anyone else to provide evidence to demonstrate what is unequivocally the mainstream scientific consensus on this or any other topic is just a cheap, pathetic, dishonest tactic.

            As for ‘soft tissue’, do you realise that fossils aren’t made of bone, and the ‘soft tissue’ found isn’t soft tissue?

  • Irene Neuner

    Being an expert in science or theology doesn’t give someone the ability to make assessments about which science or theology is based or even weighted on assumptions and which assumptions or textual preferences are likely to be correct.

    All that is needed is critical thinking. Including willing to be critical of the status quo. It is pride that prevents men from fearlessly wondering at the secrets of God’s creation.

    The evidence for a ‘young’ earth is extensive and the most reasonable Biblical understanding.

    • I am actually challenging the assumption, Irene, that we should adopt textual preference that does not include historical and linguistic study. What assumption do you think we should take? Do you disagree with me on that?

      I am also challenging the assumption that old-earth creationists reach their conclusions because through “pride,” as you’ve put it. That’s the kind of divisive language I hope we can put behind us. Would you consider that, please?

      • Irene Neuner

        Well my husband and I chose to attend a church (for 5 years) where the excellent pastor had a preference for and ‘old’ earth and was as liberal as would could be without compromising a living faith and scripture so I certainly do not see these things as disqualifies or divisive.

        Only Christ is perfect and we are united in Him. He would be the only thing that divides and disqualifies.

  • David Hess

    Young Earth and Old Earth Creationists (like Dr. Hugh Ross) BOTH believe in special creation and reject evolution. The issue that divides them is mostly WHEN that special creation took place. My prayer is that they are able to join hands in the years to come. They both have a high view of Scripture. They both view creation as a miracle (as opposed to the Theistic Evolutionists). What unites us, can and should be celebrated as we seek to communicate the glories of Creation!

  • Cortney Alexander

    As someone who believes the Genesis 1 days are 24-hour days, I find this article very disappointing. Not because the author says he takes a different view, but because the article gives the strong impression that the majority of inappropriate “heat” comes from those who believe in the 24-hour view. Hugh Ross, for example, is presented as the reasonable person in this debate. That is highly misleading. In “The Genesis Debate: Three Views on the Days of Creation,” Hugh Ross proposed “a modern-day ecumenical council to resolve the creation-date controversy.” But, he says, “[c]ouncil participants must not be ideologues. Ideologues are beyond rationality, so committed to their ideas that no amount of evidence influences their thinking. Allowing ideologues to participate in the discussion will only widen the gaps and deepen the animosities dividing people of different views.” It doesn’t take much imagination to figure out who Ross would like to exclude from this council given that he elsewhere says that the 24-hour view leads to a “gnostic-like theology,” and says of his co-authors who represent the 24-hour view: “Surging emotions seem to have swamped the intellectual exchange, drowning out all but a flicker of hope for progress toward resolution, or even for thoughtful, respectful dialogue.” William Lane Craig, meanwhile, says it “is just hugely embarrassing . . . that over half of our ministers really believe that the universe is only around 10,000 years old.” Thus, the claim that advocates of old-earth creation (and the corollary beliefs that death and suffering existed before the fall, Noah’s flood wasn’t global, etc.) hold the moral high ground in this intra-church debate is not supported by the evidence.

    • Cortney,

      Hugh Ross does not describe all young-earthers as ideologues. Some are, though. That is the unfortunate fact that I have highlighted here myself. I do not have the Three Views book, but I would be extremely surprised if he included all you.ng-earthers under the pejorative descriptions you’ve quoted here. Maybe he did include all under his assessment of it leading to a “gnostic-like theology,” but that’s still out of context. What were his reasons for saying it? Is that argument valid? I know him well enough to be confident there really was an argument there. He wasn’t just name-calling

      I can assure you from conversations with Hugh Ross, he has taken enormous heat from them, and he has responded with considerable grace considering the pressure.

      As for William Lane Craig’s statement, that needs context, too.

      • Cortney Alexander

        Hi Tom, thanks for your reply. However, while you say my quotations are out-of-context, I provided actual quotations from prominent Christian leaders that anyone can verify. If you’d like to give me or someone else the opportunity to publish a responsive article, those quotations could be addressed in fuller context. Otherwise, I think the quantity of verifiable information I provided in my comment compares quite favorably to that contained in your article. As for your personal knowledge of Hugh Ross, I could likewise tell of my personal knowledge of people working in ministries that defend the 24-hour view, not to mention the frequent attacks they receive from old-earth creationists. But unless my representations about their character and dedication to the gospel would change your view, please don’t be surprised if your representations don’t convince me that old-earthers are more charitable toward young-earthers than vice-versa. I’ve read old-earth creationists’ characterizations of those who believe the 24-hour view, and I’ve experienced their pejorative attacks myself in Biola’s Apologetics program.

        • Based on my experience, there is more dogmatism on one side of the issue than there is on the other. I can accept and respect what you say about your experience being different.

          We need to reduce the heat on both sides of the argument. I don’t mind if the experts take strong a strong stance. Their debates — if they avoid ad hominem approaches — may even lead us all to an agreed answer. The rest of us, though, need to approach the subject with the humility that says we don’t know yet.

        • Cortney Alexander

          By the way, since you know Hugh Ross, I hope you’ll ask him to remove the blog post on Reasons to Believe’s website pondering, “What if God has endowed a certain percentage of people with a genetic predisposition toward homosexuality in order to control population and to help keep families intact.” The author goes on to note that if this were the case, then it must mean that “the sin in 1 Corinthians 6:9 becomes homosexual offenses and not homosexual orientation . . . What if the offenses are pederasty, rape, or male prostitution, and not homosexuality per se?” In other words, the author speculates that homosexuality is within God’s plan (i.e., not a result of the fall) and therefore the Bible must not actually condemn all homosexual activity. I bring this up because it’s blog posts like this that convince young-earth creationists that the hermeneutic used by progressive creationists opens the door to reinterpreting the Bible on other issues. This blog post has been on Reasons’ site for more than 10 years. I hope that no teenager seeking a Biblical response to same-sex attraction has found it.

  • Charles Burge

    I’ll say first that I don’t question the faith of so-called “old-earthers”. But I do find their arguments… lacking. For example, this statement:Which is to say, it’s there in the English translation without historical context. Which is inadequate.
    is flat-out dismissive, without really making any sound argument. Exodus 20:11 says “For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” (NIV). What historical context do you need in order to understand what God means in this passage? If He had wanted to make it any more clear, how could He have?

    Lastly, consider why we are here. That is, why did God create humanity at all? The Bible as a whole indicates that the reason was that so God could have fellowship with Mankind. If you accept that is the reason, then it doesn’t make sense that He would have wasted billions of years dithering about with rocks, and trees, and apes, before finally creating a man that He could have a relationship with. It makes more sense that He would have gotten straight to the point – that is, quickly creating a home for mankind (as indicated in Isaiah 45:18), and then crating Adam and Eve, whom He could have fellowship with.

    • Greetings, Charles.

      I appreciate that you don’t question old-earthers’ faith. Obviously I don’t agree with you that my statement on the English translation without historical context is “dismissive.” What historical context do you need to understand the passage? Actually, if you read the books I’m referring to, you’d find that they deal with that very question. It’s one thing to disagree with their conclusions, it’s another thing — in fact, it’s dismissive itself — to say that the discussion they enter into is unnecessary.

      The same goes for your second paragraph. Your argument there has a parallel in one I’ve heard often from atheists: Why did God create such a huge universe if man was His main interest? You can search The Stream for my article in response to that The answer is ultimately that He can choose to do whatever He chooses, and there is no “waste” for God; He isn’t watching inventory, He’s not checking HIs supplies, and He’s not short on time. It might not make sense to us, but God’s free decisions don’t have to.

      But this post wasn’t about getting the age of the universe right or wrong, it was about dogmatism in our positions on the question. And I appreciate your not being that way. Thanks.

      • Kevin Quillen

        Tom, I do not think that issue is dogmatism as much as credibility. If Christ was in error about man being created in the beginning as He stated, what else was He wrong about?

    • ARB

      I agree; I don’t think those who propose an old-earth interpretation are necessarily disbelieving or even knowingly deviating from Scripture. They’re often honestly contented by the illusion of coherence they see between the science and the Bible. However, I do think they have neglected two things: they have failed to consider the consequences of admitting evolutionary design methodology into their theory, and they have failed to assess whether the resultant theory is, indeed, more plausible than a simple young-earth interpretation within a scientific paradigm permitting the existence and action of God interrupting natural processes.

      The former is indeed the primary reason my synod, and most young-earth creationists I have met, do not consider evolutionary design a plausible theological theory: selection demands, first and foremost, *death* to exist in the world. However, we find in Scripture that death is an evil which was introduced into this world with the fall into sin; and if death, an evil, was indeed in the world God called “good”, we would find God Himself is made out to be a liar; that he indeed was directly responsible for creating evil in this world, which is self-contradictory.

      The latter concern is similar to your description; however, my primary concern is that evolution as a theory is primarily necessitated by the extreme weakness of physical processes to develop complex entities. As a mathematician who has done research regarding the mathematics of evolutionary algorithms, the least plausible aspect of evolution (to me) is the concept of evolution as a means of optimization. Evolution, lacking certain mathematical properties like Elitism that are not just helpful but generally *necessary* for evolution (in mathematical contexts anyway), simply doesn’t create fit entities when operating in extremely high dimensional genetic spaces…like those encountered in genetics. Sure, evolution alone can create mediocre entities, but complex, highly optimized entities? This is outside of its realm of power. Therefore, while evolution gives us a view into simple organisms, it is a very weak explanation for complex observed life, and ought only be accepted if the paradigm one is operating in cannot admit a stronger explanation–and I suspect this is indeed the case with the standard secular scientific paradigm.

      Now, if we admit in our paradigm the possibility of a little-“g” god who *could* direct evolution down channels leading to highly optimized entities even when random chance would demand and force insurmountable degrees of degenerative mutation (as is generally the case near a fitness maximum, i.e. an optimized organism) a theory of evolution becomes infinitely more plausible. However, just about any coherent theory becomes trivially plausible once you admit the existence of an omnipotent god who *could* have done precisely that. This god of convenient explanations is not the God that Christianity claims exists, however.

      Once we restrict ourselves to “I am” rather than “I might be”, we no longer live in a realm where any theory no matter how far-fetched is plausible; for that God to act, it must serve that God’s intentions and purposes in some way. And I have never heard any plausible theory as to why the Christian God would construct a world in such a bizarre and surreal way to the end of developing for himself worshippers of their own volition, and then construct a poem at the beginning of his written communiques to his creation which is so tremendously misleading, even if one takes it as a metaphor for evolution; it doesn’t even line up with the science! One cannot simply make a claim that God did something one way, when he said he did it another way, and the primary alternative you’re triangulating towards (evolutionary theory) says it was done in an entirely different and contradictory way to both your compromise or the literal interpretation. By positing creative evolution, one ends up with a theory neither satisfying the scientific mind nor the theological mind; one is merely left dogpaddling in the water between the sinking ship of human reason and the rescue boat of revealed knowledge.

      It is infinitely better, in my opinion, to simply take the words as a fresh creation of an ancient world, compromising neither the scientific aspect (which now errs only in that it is premised on eras which did not happen in the literal sense) nor the theological aspect (which is satisfied fully, but for the relatively mild oddity of fossils in a world which knew not death).

    • Irene Neuner

      Amen! Well said.

    • Kevin Quillen

      Thank you brother, great points. The Exodus argument is sound. If we are to rest on the seventh day, do we rest for an eon or just a day?

      • Charles Burge

        It’s not just that. More importantly, what does it mean for God to rest, and how long exactly did He rest? Did He rest for just one 24-hour day, or did He rest for millions of years? To answer that, it’s helpful to consider what, exactly, God’s work entails. Hebrews 1:3 says that God sustains all things through His word. That means that He actively upholds the universe through continuous action (a direct refutation of Deism). Now, God certainly could have let the universe run on its own for several million years while he rested, but I think that’s not consistent with what we know of His character.

  • Hours later, and they still haven’t posted my comment…

    • Your comment had links in it, which aren’t allowed under The Stream’s comment policy. See the link to commenting rules at the top of the commenting section, please, and then try again. Thanks for reading The Stream.

      • Glad to know the reason. That rule puts a serious limit on discussion, but I certainly understand it (spam and nasty links, enough said). I did look for the policy after it was not going through, but could not find it. “the link to commenting rules at the top of the commenting section” – I still do not see such a link, neither at the top or bottom of this commenting section, maybe it helps to know I am posting via Disqus?

        • Kevin Quillen

          spell out your link and use (dot) in place of the real .

        • Logic

          Were you able to find a solution to your commenting problem? After seeing your post, I checked the rules before commenting. As far as I can tell, my comment did not violate the rules, but It was immediately marked as spam and never appeared below this article. I notified them about 6 days ago that it was not spam. They said they would check on it, but I have heard nothing. I posted again about this problem to Tom Gilson. It was visible for about a day, then it was marked as spam and deleted. Responding again did not help. Since Disqus said I needed to contact The Stream about it, I did so a couple of days ago. Still nothing. I was hoping that you might have some advice that would be helpful to me and others. I realize that this is a little off topic, so I reckon it will also be marked as spam.

      • Logic

        I also had a comment marked as spam. I checked the policy, and as far as I can tell, my comment did not violate the rules. I clicked on the button identifying that it was not spam. It’s been 3 hours, and I still have not seen it posted.

  • Young earth creationists, better, Genesis as straightforward history creationists, never fail to express why this is indeed a matter of critical importance. And as if I need to say it, all the major proponents always clarify that you can absolutely be saved while holding these compromised views, though we state without apology that this is very dangerous, as it undermines the foundation to the whole house. So how can your article be taken seriously when you make this whole thing a critique towards them for ever having made such a big deal about this issue, while not listing a single reason they always give for why this is indeed so important? I’ll make it simple, why it’s important:

    1. Because old-earth history is fabricated history, mostly imagined by anti-God proponents since the Enlightenment period who were trying to explain the world’s origins without God (atheists), or at least without the Judeo-Christian God (anti-Christian Deists, agnostics, etc). This fabricated history has purposefully had God’s hand removed from it, you cannot redeem it by sprinkling God dust back into it.

    2. The entire Bible knows nothing of this history (whether or not the bible’s world history is true), it is sheer eisegesis to read it into the Bible, not just into Genesis 1. We are not being Bible-thumpers in stating that, it is self-evident, and the many non-Christian Semitic scholars totally agree with us on this one (they just of course don’t believe the biblical history).

    3. Along with 2, the biblical history knows NOTHING of an entire massive history of death and suffering before Adam and Eve, where their garden had endless eons of suffering and death in the rocks below that garden. That’s just the truth, it’s not just me reading in what I want of my theology (that God wouldn’t allow this), it’s obvious from the account that it knows nothing of that grotesque, deathly history. Gross eisegesis! And not just eisegesis, it goes entirely against *the spirit* of the actual creation account, that it was all good.

    4. If one wants to look into it, there is abundant evidence that the Flood explains most of the geologic record, that the earth is young, and so forth … IF one is interested in considering that possibility.

    Lastly, as a Semiticist myself, I am engaging in the claims on that level, against different theories, such as those proffered more recently by Sailhamer, Collins, etc. I hadn’t heard of Tom Gender, I will be checking out his book.

    • There are many things the Bible knows nothing of, yet are true nevertheless.

      The age of the earth is not, however, a crucial foundation for Christian doctrine. Special creation of humans certainly is. Original innocence is. A literal fall is. But the age of the universe before all that happened is not.

      Your points 1 through 4 young-earth persons’ positions, disputed by men and women who love God and believe the Bible is literally true.

      Points 1 and 4 are of the sort that I described in the article, that is, those who are not specialists in the relevant field would do well to practice humility about their level of certainty in them. Again, well-read, knowledgeable, Bible-believing, God-honoring people disagree, so it is premature at best to count them as tests for faith.

      Your point 3 is actually eisegesis. The Bible makes it clear that human suffering and death began at the fall. It is silent on plant and animal death.

      Realize I’m not saying the Bible teaches the world is billions of years old. I’m saying that responsible scholars have concluded that it’s not necessary (in some cases) or even wrong (in others) to conclude that the Bible teaches the earth is young. That’s the biblical argument. Now, if that’s true, then every other claim of old earth being “fabricated by anti-God proponents” falls by the wayside; for if Genesis doesn’t actually teach a young earth, then an old earth is not necessarily anti-God.

      The question easily gets conflated with naturalistic views of the evolution of life. Naturalistic evolution (a) is anti-God, and (b) requires a very old earth. Somehow, many people have taken those two facts to suppose that an old-earth view is anti-God. But that’s guilt by association, which is logically fallacious and factually false. There are many God-loving Christians who support the old-earth view of origins without (of course) being anti-God proponents.

      And they don’t reach that conclusion by parroting anti-God evolutionists. They study the actual evidence in nature to come to that conclusion. That evidence certainly is there. To reject it on grounds of it being “anti-God” is to assume that the young-earth interpretation of Genesis is the only possible biblical view, whereas I’m imploring all to recognize that the question remains open, and we should treat it with humility in the meantime.

      • Thank you for your response Tom.

        [There are many things the Bible knows nothing of, yet are true nevertheless.]

        And there are other things and events it relates, which firmly rule out alternative events, when they contradict what is stated both in detail *and* in spirit. In this case, Genesis does both.

        [Your point 3 is actually eisegesis. The Bible makes it clear that human suffering and death began at the fall. It is silent on plant and animal death.]

        I wonder if you know the meaning of the word. I am not reading anything in, it is your view that demands endless eons of suffering and death to be read into a text that knows and hints nothing of it, but which in fact entirely contradicts such a ghastly history. And by the way, God cares a lot more about animals than you make it sound like. Read the last verses of Jonah. Read also the event with Balaam and the donkey, it is amazing what the Angel states there, in care for even a dumb donkey.

        [The age of the earth is not, however, a crucial foundation for Christian doctrine. * Special creation of humans certainly is. * Original innocence is. * A literal fall is. But the age of the universe before all that happened is not.]

        [The age of the earth is not, however…] Just to be clear, my focus is on the *history* of the earth more than just its age. The history of the heavens and the earth is one way of translating toledoth in Genesis 2:4, Genesis 5:1, etc. Genesis was very much so purporting to tell us the history of this world, including the creation of all animals and plants, culminating in man. It gives every impression that animals were made at the same time, within the same week, as man was, that they had been created nearly alongside him, and there is not the slightest hint of death or suffering throughout, for neither man nor beast. The text also gives the reason why death entered the world, which was because of man’s fall. The first killed animal was the one sacrificed to atone for Adam and Eve’s sin, in order to clothe them (Gen. 3).

        You say a lot about the experts, newsflash, most of those experts completely reject the God of Moses entirely, and this world is in deep darkness. Also, all of them are experts in only a tiny segment of knowledge, and many of them are in extreme spiritual blindness. I wish you would start thinking for yourself, instead of saying you are not allowed to think any of this until an expert gives you the permission to. “For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God’s sight. As it is written: “He catches the wise in their craftiness” (1 Corinthians 3:19)? And also: “At that time Jesus said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children.” Also, your point that just because two people are on two sides of a question, therefore shows either side might equally be right, is proved wrong in almost every other point in the Christian faith.

        Even if we were to except everything else out, which is against the entire spirit of all that Genesis 1-3 relates, special creation of humans, original innocence, and a literal fall, the three points you just enumerated as “crucial foundations,” are all destroyed with the naturalistic history which old-earth creationists try to redeem or synchronize with, unless you deny the existence of all of the purported ancient humans. But not even Hugh Ross denies their existence, but supposes that Neanderthals and other such humans were, in his made up world, simply “soulless” humanoids. (Such explanations are dripping with desperation and inventiveness). All indications are increasingly that these were fully humans though, as smart and inventive and artistic as we are. Where was God for them? Why would he have let them die and struggle and get cancer and kill each other and suffer rape and war and evil, with no answer from heaven, when they hadn’t even fallen yet? Eden hadn’t even been created yet, which Ross puts at 50,000 years ago. What of these fully human like men and women and children till that time? If we are to accept such a story, if human-like creatures were living since 500,000 years ago, and if Eden goes back only let’s round up to 10,000 years ago, this means the history of human like creatures was this much longer than the history of us children of Adam and Eve:

        Us:
        ……….

        Humans before Eden:
        ………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………….

        But we are just supposed to blissfully ignore the existence of those humans for all that vast amount of greater time than we have lived? I’m glad this is not the message of Genesis, and that it does in fact contradict the details as well as the spirit of God’s actual history. The suffering in our world is because of the fall of man, and it will be swallowed up in victory at the end, through the cross. But all of this is destroyed if the real history of this world includes a million times more suffering even for human like creatures for no fault of their own before any fall. This makes a mockery of what we would have to start calling the “purported” fall. The word “the fall” looses all of its meaning.

        • I know what eisegesis is, thanks. To commit eisegesis is to say, “The text says x,” when the text doesn’t say it. I never said, “The text says there was animal death before the Fall.” You, on the other hand, conclude that the first animal that died was the one God slew to make clothing for Adam and Eve. The text doesn’t say that.

          So please be cautious with your accusations. That’s the very thing I’m pleading for here! Please don’t write off other Bible-believers who don’t agree with you on something as potentially complex as this.

          On another point: Most experts in geology, cosmology, etc. reject the Genesis account completely. I agree with you on that. I’ve spent a large portion of my career contesting their beliefs with many of them. I’m not asking you to agree with them but with those who do hold to the truth of Scripture. I thought that was clear in my article above. I do not agree with naturalistic theories of history, as you seem to suggest in your last paragraph here.

          As for other hominids, you ask great questions. Thanks for that. I don’t know the answer, but I don’t think the only possible solution is in young-earth theory. I’m willing to see what others may come forth. I’m not sure paleoanthropology has the right answers, that’s for sure. We’ll see.

          I am thinking for myself, thanks. Part of thinking includes drawing conclusions when there’s adequate information; part of it is not drawing conclusions when one doesn’t have enough information.

          • GLT

            “You, on the other hand, conclude that the first animal that died was the one God slew to make clothing for Adam and Eve. The text doesn’t say that.”

            You are correct on this point, Tom. However, one must be careful not to fall into the trap of assuming because the Bible does not say this instance of animal death was the first that therefore one can safely conclude there was animal death prior to this instance. That is the logical flaw which leads to eisegesis. The usual line of reasoning being; ‘No animal death is mentioned prior to God slaying an animal for clothing but it also does not say there was no previous animal death. Therefore, I can conclude animal death did occur prior to this event simply because the Bible does not say it did not.’

        • Trilemma

          You assume death is a bad thing. You assume that death before the fall involved suffering. The Bible says all animals ate plants so animals were not tearing each other to shreds. Even today, death doesn’t always involve suffering. Many people and animals die peacefully in their sleep. If there are births. If there is new life constantly coming into existence, then death is a necessity. If there were no death, the planet would become exhausted and all life would cease. It’s the circle of life. Most Christians believe that the death that came into the world with the fall was a spiritual death. The belief is that Adam and Eve died spiritually when they ate the fruit. If that’s the case, then physical death before the fall is not excluded as a possibility.

      • Kevin Quillen

        Tom, you realize of course that old earth and evolution are based on assumptions. Real science requires observable, repeatable, experiments. The Mount St Helens lava dome was recently dated at 2.8 million of age. Radiometric dated. I believe the eye witness. Jesus Christ. He said that “in the beginning God made man”, Genesis 1:1 says, “in the beginning”. How many “beginnings” do you suppose there were?

        • Why must there only be one beginning ever? I take it that Jesus was talking about from the beginning of humans, the beginning of marriage, apsince that was the topic of the current conversation.

        • swordfish

          Regarding the 2.8 million year claim, it was made in a paper which deliberately used an inappropriate radiometric dating method to try and show that such dating produces inacccurate results. In practice, geologists always use multiple methods to avoid exactly these kinds of errors.

          • GLT

            “it was made in a paper which deliberately used an inappropriate radiometric dating method to try and show that such dating produces inacccurate results.”

            It’s always a good idea to back up such claims with references, why don’t you try that in this instance?

          • swordfish

            Dunning, B. “How Old Is the Mount St. Helens Lava Dome?” Skeptoid Podcast. Skeptoid Media,
            24 Mar 2009.

          • GLT

            Skeptoid media? Are you really serious? I’m sorry but I was kind of expecting something a little more scholarly. Can you do that?

            And before you make the accusation, I did check out the credentials of the people involved and not one is qualified to speak to this topic with any more authority than your average layman. You will need to do much better than this.

          • swordfish

            Your response is as expected. Perhaps you’d prefer this:

            Young-Earth Creationist ‘Dating’ of a Mt. St. Helens Dacite: The Failure of Austin and Swenson to Recognize Obviously Ancient Minerals – Kevin R. Henke, Ph.D.

          • swordfish

            Note: GLT had no response to this. He doesn’t like facts.

      • GLT

        “They study the actual evidence in nature to come to that conclusion. That evidence certainly is there.”

        I think the use of the phrase, ‘that evidence certainly is there’, incorrectly implies their, ie; evolutionists; particular interpretation of that evidence is correct. Evidence, of the type used to support evolutionary narratives, is neutral and always subject to interpretation based on one’s presuppositions. Such presuppositional interpretations can be found in the assertion that the fossil evidence shows transitional creatures in the process of transforming from being land dwelling to sea dwelling for example. There is nothing in the fossils to lead one to make that conclusion unless the presumption that such events occurred is already present in the investigator.

    • Kevin Quillen

      your point about the necessity of a long period of time is a great point. Evolution needs a lot of time, and in the past, the age of the universe and earth has been increased for just this reason. However, the problem of irreducible complexity and very specific design, along with the ever deepening knowledge of the complexity of even simple organisms, will cause the theory to fail. Even now, they are trying to find a way to get intelligence into the equation without acknowledging an intelligent designer. Thank you.

      • I am a strong proponent of intelligent design theory, by the way.

    • swordfish

      “old-earth history is fabricated history”

      No. It’s what a patient, honest, unbiased analysis of every piece of available evidence from every relevant branch of science leads us to conclude. For example, we can see stars which are millions of light years away – if the universe was only a few thousand years old, light from those stars wouldn’t have had time to have reached us.

      • The founders of these ideas did indeed invent these stories. James Hutton, Charles Lyell, Charles Darwin, etc. All based in imagination and fabrications, based on a deliberately deistic then atheistic Enlightenment world-view. It is these guys and others like them that got this ball moving, and their spirit of godless fabrication lives on today, its just things move along the most scientifically defensible path. Evolution is all about story-telling. As for the old-earth ideas of Hutton and Lyell, it is not just me, look at what atheist Stephen Gould said about their ideas, he skewered them as houses made of cardboard. And yet Lyellian uniformitarian ideas took the world by storm for a hundred years, and we still feel the effects, even though mainstream has increasingly moved away, by necessity, from uniformitarianism. For how this has continued to impact modern geology and so forth, see John Baumgardner’s article (“But What About the Geological / Fossil Record? (Highlights of the Los Alamos Origins Debate: Part III)” search that in google to find it):

        “Just as there has been glaring scientific fraud in things biological for the past century, there has been a similar fraud in things geological. The error, in a word, is uniformitarianism. This outlook assumes and asserts the earth’s past can be correctly understood purely in terms of present day processes acting at more or less present day rates. Just as materialist biologists have erroneously assumed material processes can give rise to life in all its diversity, materialist geologists have assumed the present can fully account for the earth’s past. In so doing, they have been forced to ignore and suppress abundant contrary evidence that the planet has suffered major catastrophe on a global scale. Only in the past two decades…” You can deny that uniformitarianism is believed anymore, but that would take ignoring the foundations of geology, how this underpinned geological ideas up till today.

        As for distant starlight, God also grew up a garden with full trees in minutes to hours. It helps to view the cosmos that way as well, not that God just poof bang in one millisecond instantly created cosmic galaxies and stars, but, view it like an artist painting a dynamic canvas. There is also time-dilation effects that may help to view that process when in the local area of let’s say a local galaxy God was creating. For more, see my short article: “‘Rapid Growth’ During Creation Week as a Solution to the Starlight and Time Problem”: google that, and also:
        “But What About Light From Distant Stars? (Highlights of the Los Alamos Origins Debate: Part V)”

      • GLT

        “every piece of available evidence from every relevant branch of science leads us to conclude.”

        How does it lead you to conclude that? What part do your presuppositions play in that conclusion?

        “if the universe was only a few thousand years old, light from those stars wouldn’t have had time to have reached us.”

        Is it possible there is another explanation as to why this light is visible to us after only a few thousand years?

        • swordfish

          “How does [every piece of available evidence from every relevant branch of science] lead you to conclude that?”

          Another one of your really ridiculous questions along the line of: “explain absolutely everything science has learned about absolutely everything in under 100 words.” Answer: do your own reading.

          “Is it possible there is another explanation as to why this light is visible to us after only a few thousand years?”

          Yes, God being deceptive.

          • GLT

            “Another one of your really ridiculous questions along the line of: “explain absolutely everything science has learned about absolutely everything in under 100 words.” Answer: do your own reading.”

            Okay, just another example of swordfish not actually having any evidence but simply spouting rhetoric and completely unable to provide any support for his claims.

            “Yes, God being deceptive.”

            First, how is God being deceptive? If we do not understand how this phenomenon occurs how does that translate into deception? Could it not simply be due to ignorance on our part?

            Second, if God does not exist, as you claim, how can he be deceptive? A non-existent being is not capable of deception or any other action.

          • swordfish

            “Okay, just another example of swordfish not actually having any evidence but simply spouting rhetoric and completely unable to provide any support for his claims.”

            This is a laughable response. There are tens of thousands of papers presenting evidence that the Earth is very old, and it isn’t just from one branch of science, it’s virtually all of it. I don’t need to present evidence here just to establish that an old Earth is the mainstream scientific position.

            “First, how is God being deceptive? If we do not understand how this phenomenon occurs how does that translate into deception? Could it not simply be due to ignorance on our part?”

            I’m not sure what you mean by “this phenomenon”, but my response in general is that it strikes me as implausible that almost everyone who has actually studied this stuff could be wrong and the Bible right. Consider the fact that all the science which (I assume) you don’t have a problem with, such as physics, semiconductors, computing, nuclear energy, and so on which we encounter the fruits of daily ALL WORK.

      • I replied to this, but curiously my responses are being marked as spam now, I wonder how that happened.

  • Dale Wickizer

    First, Tom, I admire your courage in addressing such a hotly debated intramural topic. Thank you.

    Whenever I have this discussion, I like to have people agree on certain ground rules:

    – This is a secondary matter, which has nothing to do with salvation.

    – In all the important areas, there is more agreement than disagreement. As Christians we believed God did it all. We believe the Bible is God’s inspired word.

    – When Christ shows up and explains how he actually created everything, heads everywhere are probably going to explode in awe and wonder, so humility should be foremost in the discussion.

    – Lastly, we are brothers and sisters in Christ. As this is a non-essential topic, we should remain brothers and sisters in Christ after the discussion. In other words, this is an area, which requires only harmony, not unity.

    I hope these ground rules will help others.

  • Irene Neuner

    “For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old,…”
    2 Peter 3:5

    The earth, trees, the whales, the cattle, the stars and Adam on the day of creation all would have looked to us like they had been around for a while respectively according to what we observe.

    • swordfish

      You’ve identified a problem with YEC – wouldn’t much of creation have to have fake ‘old’ bits put in? What about the soil which the plants were growing in? Soil is the decaying remains of previous plants, so there would have to have been fake pre-decayed soil created at the same time as the plants. What about adult animals, as you suggest – those cows could never have been calves. Did they have fake memories?

      • Irene Neuner

        Correct, I would argue that Adam had no belly button because he was not attached to his mother in utero because he never was in utero.

        “Which was the son of Enos, which was the son of Seth, which was the son of Adam, which was the son of God.”
        Luke 3:38

        I believe Adam was created with the ability to walk, he never crawled and speak — he never babbled.

        Biblically speaking there was no decay until the fall. God gave man and beasts plant life for food. Lions did not kill and eat antelope.

        We weren’t there so we can either make assumptions about the beginning based on what we see around us or trust God’s Word.

      • m-nj

        You are falling into the trap of uniformitarianism… assuming that the way things work now (erosion, decay, techtonics, etc.) is the way things worked at the beginning. EVERYTHING change when Adam and Eve sinned, so we can’t assume everything we see now happening was happening back then.

        • swordfish

          There was no Adam and Eve. If the Earth is only a few thousand years old, there simply hasn’t been enough time for human genetic diversity and population size to have developed.

          • GLT

            “there simply hasn’t been enough time for human genetic diversity and population size to have developed.”

            Way more than enough time. Look it up, it is there for you to see. Population growth can occur very rapidly.

          • swordfish

            As I’ve pointed out to you elsewhere, the human population is estimated to have never fallen below about 10,000 individuals, so that completely rules out Adam an Eve.

          • AndRebecca

            That’s interesting.

          • swordfish

            Nice to hear I’m not the only person who thinks so. I read earlier that this population estimate has been increased to 12,000.

          • AndRebecca

            So, 10 or 12 thousand people just appeared in different places on the earth at the same time? Or what are you saying exactly, that there had to have been 10,000 people 10,000 years ago for the population of the earth to be what it is today? The population was very small until recently, until it exploded, or at least that’s what has been said by some.

          • swordfish

            I’m not an expert, but it’s based on looking at how much genetic diversity there is now and extrapolating backwards bearing in mind the known mutation rate in humans.

            It’s not that 12,000 people suddenly appeared, it’s that we evolved from our ape-like ancestors as a group of at least 12,000. We aren’t all the same now and we weren’t all the same then.

          • AndRebecca

            Speaking of genetics, and genetic diversity, the most common hereditary disease in Northern Europeans is Hereditary Hemochromatosis. The first mutation for this disease is thought to have happened 70 generations ago. That’s only 1400 years or so, ago. Well within either of the above beliefs on creation. It would be easier to figure out if something like H.H. had several many people mutate at the same time, than trying to figure out if 12,000 mutated into an entire new species at the same time.

          • swordfish

            “It would be easier to figure out if something like H.H. had several many people mutate at the same time, than trying to figure out if 12,000 mutated into an entire new species at the same time.”

            I didn’t say 12,000 people mutated at the same time. Mutations, if not obviously harmful, spread through a population gradually. As for a particular mutation happening only 70 generations ago, that’s not in the least surprising. You will have mutations which have happened to you, so zero generations ago.

          • AndRebecca

            What mutations happen to people zero generations ago? And why 12,000 people if not all at once?

          • swordfish

            Sorry, my “zero generations ago” was a bit unclear. I mean we all have mutations in our DNA – that’s one of the reasons we’re not identical.

            “And why 12,000 people if not all at once?”

            Because we evolve as a group, and the changes are extremely small. We’re all different now, but we’re still all humans. We were all different then, but we were still all humans (or all our ape-like ancestors at some time before then). But there was no sharp dividing line where one generation wasn’t human and the next was.

            Another way to look at this is that the mutations don’t all happen to the same person! They happen to different individuals in a group – some mutations spread because they offer a reproductive advantage, others do not. The group evolves as a whole, on average.

          • AndRebecca

            Your evolution theory reminds me of “2001,A Space Odyssey.” It sounds more sci-fi than anything else. People today are not different than humans thousands of years ago as far as genes, and most mutations are not good things.

          • swordfish

            I see, so when you first responded with “how interesting”, that was just you being disengenuous. Is that considered a good thing in Christianity?

            As for your comments about evolution, it’s not “my” evolution, and the fact that you’re ignorant of the basics and not imaginative enough to see it as anything other than “sci fi” doesn’t say a lot for you. Oh, and the specific claim you made about mutations is wrong – even our three-colour vision is down to a mutation. ‘Bye.

          • AndRebecca

            When I said how interesting, I was expecting you to flesh out your ideas, which you did. “Sounds interesting” has never meant I agree with you. I know quite a bit about evolution, and have never heard what you’ve said before except in the sci-fi movie which I mentioned. And you don’t know what the word mutation means, if you think people just sit around mutating. A genetic mutation is a sudden structural change within a gene or chromosome not found in the parental type, a mutant. So, good bye to you.

          • swordfish

            ‘Bye.

      • Kevin Quillen

        so swordfish, do you suppose that Adam and Eve were created as babies and had to grow up to adulthood? God obviously has the ability to create as He sees fit. What is wrong with the concept of God creating a universe that appears to us as old? Unless you think that babies could survive to adulthood on their own.

        • swordfish

          “What is wrong with the concept of God creating a universe that appears to us as old?”

          God isn’t supposed to lie.

          • GLT

            “God isn’t supposed to lie.”

            Demonstrate that such an instance would be a lie. That something appears a certain way to an observer does not make the originator of that something deceitful in his actions.

          • swordfish

            If the world appears to be billions of years old, but is actually only a few thousand years old, I don’t see how that can be interpreted as anything other than deceit. An omniscient God can’t claim he didn’t know we’d interpret the evidence in a certain way.

          • GLT

            “If the world appears to be billions of years old, but is actually only a few thousand years old, I don’t see how that can be interpreted as anything other than deceit.”

            Because you do not see any other interpretation is not proof no other interpretation is possible. What about the possibility the observer is simply mistaken in his interpretation?

            ” An omniscient God can’t claim he didn’t know we’d interpret the evidence in a certain way.”

            Again you seem to be under the impression everyone must think as you do. Obviously not all people look at the world and believe it is billions of years old or we would not be having this discussion. So that brings up the obvious question, how does the world ‘appear’ to be billions of years old?

          • swordfish

            I posted a list of evidence earlier in this thread, which I notice you’ve not responded to. Why don’t you? While you’re about it, you could also respond to the comment from Ken Wolgemuth, who’s an actual geologist.

          • GLT

            “I posted a list of evidence earlier in this thread,…”

            You did, where?

          • swordfish

            If you want to play that game, I’ll repeat it for you here:

            The stratiographic record (Rock layers) and radiometric dating (Tens of thousands of measurements have been made).

            But you’re claiming it’s only around 6,000 years old, so to disprove that, you could consider that there are bristlecone pines in California which predate Noah’s flood (according to counting growth rings), 20 million years-worth of annual varve sediments in the Green river, 45,000 layers of annual algae blooms at the bottom of Lake Suigetsu in Japan, 40,000 annual layers of ice in Antarctica, and the fact that the Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing by about 1 second in 50,000 years, meaning
            that there were more days in a year in the past and this has been measured by studies of rings on rugose coral fossils that were independently estimated to be 370 million years old, revealing that when they were alive, there were about 400 days in the year.

          • GLT

            “radiometric dating,…”

            Based on unsupportable assumptions and wildly variant in its results. Trees can produce more than one ring per year, varves can also be generated multiple times per year, the same is true of algae blooms and ice layers, etc, etc. Your entire set of arguments are all assumption based forms of dating.

            As for your claims of California trees dating prior to Noah’s Flood, that is simply false. The ages of the Bristlecone Pines in California are only estimates, obviously and actually date in line with the estimated time of the flood.

          • swordfish

            GLT: “Based on unsupportable assumptions and wildly variant in its [radiometric dating] results. Trees can produce more than one ring per year, varves can also be generated multiple times per year, the same is true of algae blooms and ice layers, etc, etc. Your entire set of arguments are all assumption based forms of dating.”

            What is your source for this? Here’s geologist Dr. Ken Wolgemuth from elsewhere in this comment thread:

            “So many here are told that the radiometric methods are built on assumptions, which means to believe in something that has no evidence. That is simply false for us as geologists. All of the methods are tested over and over and over again. […] Tree rings go back to 14,000 years, and Lake Suigetsu to 50,000 years.”

            GLT: “As for your claims of California trees dating prior to Noah’s Flood, that is simply false. The Bristlecone Pines in California actually date in line with the estimated time of the flood.”

            Really? According to Creation Ministries International “The Biblical data places the Flood at 2304 BC ± 11 years.” (Love that +- 11 years accuracy!), while according to multiple sources, the Methusula bristlecone pine is 4,780 years old, and there’s another one which is 5,067 years old. Fail!

          • swordfish

            Note: GLT had no answer to this. He doesn’t like facts.

          • GLT

            “radiometric dating,…”

            It is no game, I do not see your supposed list earlier on this thread.

            Radiometric dating is based on unsupportable assumptions and wildly variant in its results. All the rest of your claims are also based on assumptions which cannot be proven.

            As for the oldest trees known, they all fit in nicely with the time for the flood at about 4 to 5,000 years.

      • GLT

        “Soil is the decaying remains of previous plants, so there would have to have been fake pre-decayed soil created at the same time as the plants.”

        Is an omnipotent God unable to produce fertile soil in which plants could grow while at the same time constructing a system which would perpetuate itself in the future via plant decay? Seriously, swordfish, this type of argument is complete nonsense. Your scenario explains nothing as you do not explain the origin of fertile soil you only push it into the past and hope no one asks the obvious questions.

        • swordfish

          “Is an omnipotent God unable to produce fertile soil in which plants could grow while at the same time constructing a system which would perpetuate itself in the future via plant decay?”

          I don’t believe that an omnipotent being would create a world which looks older than it really is. Creating adult animals which were never born and have no parents is plain weird.

        • swordfish

          Assuming the existence of an omnipotent God, your scenario is plausible, but it would be another example of God being deceitful by making something which looks older than it really is. It also lacks any supporting evidence.

          I’m not going to argue about evolution with you as it’s off-topic.

          • GLT

            “but it would be another example of God being deceitful by making something which looks older than it really is.”

            I have asked you before, swordfish, how does something ‘look’ old?
            Specifically, how does the Earth ‘look’ old, do you know of a young Earth with which you can compare?

            “It also lacks any supporting evidence.”

            What does?

          • swordfish

            “I have asked you before, swordfish, how does something ‘look’ old?”

            (Swordfish is my name, don’t wear it out!)

            Does a fully-grown tree look older than a sapling?

            If God created fully-grown trees in 24 hours, then they must have looked older than they actually were. If you’d have sawn one down, would it have had growth rings?

            “Specifically, how does the Earth ‘look’ old, do you know of a young Earth with which you can compare?”

            How do you think the Earth would have looked straight after creation? Would it have had sandy beaches, oxygen in the atmosphere, salt flats, mountains, seas, icecaps, forests, deserts, soil? Those things all take more than 6 days to form, so their existence would be deceit by God.

            As for having a “young Earth”, we have the next best thing, namely physical evidence which indicates what the earth would have been like at earlier times.

      • GLT

        “Soil is the decaying remains of previous plants, so there would have to have been fake pre-decayed soil created at the same time as the plants.”

        So, your argument is that an omnipotent God could not create fertile soil in which to put plants or adult animals capable of reproducing?

        “Did they have fake memories?”

        Why would they need memories at all?

        I’m curious, how would soil created by an omnipotent God be fake soil?

  • ncsugrant

    If we can’t agree on the meaning of fairly straightforward Genesis, how can we ever communicate Paul’s teachings to a lost world?
    Maybe we should stop testing scripture against an ever-changing and wholly inadequate standard of “science”, and just take it at face value.

    • tz1

      Do you mean the KJV English translation, or the possible ambiguities involved in the original Hebrew?
      Worse, one trap is Paul speaks as a philosopher, while the commands in the words of Jesus himself are in the Gospels, so we don’t want to think about having hate or lust in our heart (sermon on the mount), or unforgiveness, but wish to explore the intracacies of uncircumcision.
      We don’t even have a clear idea of the line from the Lord’s prayer “Give us this day our daily bread”, as it doesn’t say that in the original greek. That is a more productive seam to mine treasures from than Genesis 1.
      And while we’re in the beginning, Jesus used Genesis to condemn in the strongest terms divorce, yet I can’t name ONE denomination or pastor or bishop or prominent religious who condemns “No-Fault Divorce”

      Why is young v. old earth soooo much more important than opposing No Fault Divorce which is flashing neon sign clear. Or opposing Aboriton?

      • ncsugrant

        I completely agree that the church should condemn no fault divorce and abortion. I agree that the words of Jesus are quite clear on lust, hate, and many other topics.
        My point is that the world has brought doubt into the church about things that are fairly straightforward. There is scant support for alternatives to the meaning of the word “day” (in any translation).
        We are being led astray when we fall for debating the basic meaning of the opening chapters of the bible.
        “Science” says we don’t yet understand how the universe was created, but we will someday. Scripture says we can’t fully understand the characteristics and power of God.
        This surely looks like an area that we cannot comprehend. “Science” presumes that all things are explainable, while scripture is full of examples of supernatural events.

        • You might be interested to know that Tom Gender, mentioned above, believes the “days” are literally 24 hours. But he also concludes the Bible doesn’t teach the universe is young.

          I’m not going to try to present his argument here. My point is this instead: There is a clear and cogently reasoned argument for an old-earth position that takes the days to be literally 24 hours wrong. Is his argument wrong? I’m pretty sure you don’t know whether it is or not. Therefore it behooves you not to presume you know for sure that this isn’t an old universe. That’s all I’m asking here: not that you believe in an old universe, but that you hold your own position with the humility that says, “I could be wrong, and I’ll treat other Bible-believing Christians who disagree with me with respect.”

          • ncsugrant

            Tom, I have and will continue to treat others with respect (whether they believe the bible or not).
            My point is that the church should not be sowing seeds of doubt about the voracity of scripture. If we make allowances for such vastly different meanings of the text in Genesis, the truly challenging portions of scripture will be rendered completely useless.
            In the end, the burden to prove an old earth, or intelligent design, lies with those who don’t take scripture literally. It seems that we are quite a long way from proving either.

        • Oh, so much left unsaid in this thread, mostly because so many YECs who have Commented here have only read what they have been told they can read. So sad (1Th 5:21). For those, on the other hand, who are willing to actually be obedient to Scripture and test *everything* which they believe, and are therefore willing to read why this statement above — “… alternatives to the meaning of the word ‘day’ (in any translation) are scant” is so gravely mistaken, Hugh Ross’ book (esp. 2nd edition) “A Matter Of Days” cites dozens of credentialed experts who a) point out that accurate exegesis of Genesis can only be done in the original Hebrew (i.e. “any translation” is irrelevant until the original Hebrew is accurately interpreted) and b) point out that the actual *literal* meanings of ‘yom’ (day) are many (Genesis 2:4 proves that unequivocally, where ‘yom’ in that verse *cannot* mean 24 hrs [or less, which ‘yom’ sometimes means elsewhere in Sceipture]). Oh, if only Christians would read what Jesus tells them to read rather than only what other YECs tell them to read. Oh, if only…

        • tz1

          The problem is the denial that all scientific evidence is that the earth, universe, etc is far more than 6000+ years old. You can construct arguments that God created things already aged (Eve didn’t have to grow from a zygote to an adult Woman), but that is a different argument.
          I can’t argue that the apparent age of the earth is an illusion, but if God creates illusions, how much of nature is left where we can have any knowledge of. The veil of Maya is an eastern idea.

          • ncsugrant

            It is simply not true that “all scientific evidence” is that the earth is far more than 6000 years old.

            There are trained experts who have differed from your supposition, and cited evidence for their views.
            It is true that none of these folks enjoy government funding, which is all geared to support the official religion of the state.
            If you believe in the God of the bible, you must surely acknowledge that He has supernatural power (that which cannot be explained by science).
            Also, you and others should really look into the “science” of dating rocks and sediment layers. Talk about a house of cards.

          • Kevin Quillen

            thank you for a great post!

          • tz1

            I can say that the evidence points to more than a 6000 year old earth, but also say I have NO IDEA (i.e. agnostic on the issue) of how old the earth or universe is.
            The problem is we only have written history which doesn’t even go back 4000 years. The rest is extrapolation. We have a flash photo of the horses crossing the finish line, but nothing before yet are trying to figure out their speed and the length of the track.
            Beyond that, there was no sun or moon until the 2nd “day”, so there was no “day” on the first “day” of creation. If “day” is determined by sun and night? When does the sabbath “day” begin an end, both in Jewish tradition and Christian traditon?

          • GLT

            “The problem is the denial that all scientific evidence is that the earth, universe, etc is far more than 6000+ years old.”

            What is the evidence and how does it show the Earth, etc., is far more than 6,000 years old?

          • tz1

            The light we see from stars travels at a known, fixed speed (and even the alleged variation isn’t enough to change this). We can tell the distances to some stars using parallax, and some are more than 6000 light years away.

            Geologic and chemical processes also have known rates, and many of them exceed the 6000 years. I will include radioactive decay.

            You can argue something like the Time Infinity Stone is at work, but then we aren’t using a common definition of time. What your argument comes down to is that a million years of activity occured in 24 hours in some context, or that God created the earth appearing to be hundreds of millions of years old or more just 6000 years ago.

            When I see someone with gray hair and wrinkled, I usually think they are at least 50. They may only be 7, but they still look like they are elderly.

          • GLT

            “The light we see from stars travels at a known, fixed speed.”

            The obvious response to that is how do you know light has always travelled at the same speed? You don’t, you presume it has. Another question which can be raised is whether or not the universe as we know it today was the same in the past. Again, you presume that to be the case, however, you do not know.

            “I will include radioactive decay.”

            This process presumes the amount of parent material is known in order to determine the time necessary to achieve the present level of daughter material. Again, you are working from presumptions. Also, you presume nothing has occurred during the passage of time which could affect the levels of parent vs daughter material.

            You have a 50 gallon barrel into which water is flowing at the rate of 1 pint per day. How long will it take for the barrel to become full?

            “What your argument comes down to is that a million years of activity occured in 24 hours in some context,…”

            Your argument is that millions of years has always been necessary for these activities. Another presumption.

            “When I see someone with gray hair and wrinkled, I usually think they are at least 50. They may only be 7, but they still look like they are elderly.”

            I don’t see how this helps your argument.

          • tz1

            You argue my point but larger in that we cannot know anything not witnessed by human beings with sufficient accuracy.

            I live in a world created by a rational God who created stable natural laws so I can expect things to work tomorrow the same as today – water will NOT be a poison, I can walk to the grocery in the same time and traversing the same distance. But I can see miracles when the firmament is violated. In that firmament are the commandments and the moral law and actual history.

            You live in a world with a capricious and whimsical God who bends and changes nature all the time where you can’t know anything – even scripture that God might decide to alter completely tomorrow. You can open your bible tomorrow and not expect any text to be the same because God might change the image – Is adultery, homosexuality, fornication, CONTRACEPTION (apparently this did change around 1930) still grave sins? Better check since NOTHING IS CONSTANT, even things we perceive to be.

          • GLT

            “You live in a world with a capricious and whimsical God who bends and changes nature all the time where you can’t know anything -”

            Nothing could be further from the truth, you’re simply making massive, unfounded assumptions. I believe in a rational God who created the heavens and the Earth and did so in six literal days. He created man as a rational being and gave to him the duty to care for his creation. He instilled in man the urge to learn and understand the nature of that creation. He is the same today as we was yesterday and will be forever. He is by his very nature incapable of being capricious.

            My conclusion would be you are failing to comprehend the difference between the world God created and the world which exists today due to the sin of man. Where the world was once perfect in all aspects, it is now a world in the throws of death and decay. The logical result of that is that many things have changed and we can only, for the most part, presume what used to be.

          • tz1

            A day is a measurable unit of time, but before there was a sun to mark it, and with having to change all the chronometers so that some strange outside measurement read 24 hours when inside it read millions of years, this is worse than the epicycles that were created to guide the planets in circles because a circle was perfect unlike an ellipse.
            I say the earth is old for the same reason that I say the earth and planets have elliptical orbits. Because that is the simplest observable fact.

          • GLT

            “A day is a measurable unit of time, but before there was a sun to mark it,…”

            So, you’re argument is an omnipotent God could not measure a 24 hour day without the sun to help him out? I must say that is an interesting concept of an omnipotent God.

            “I say the earth is old for the same reason that I say the earth and planets have elliptical orbits. Because that is the simplest observable fact.”

            How is the Earth observably old? What does an old Earth look like? Do you have a young Earth you can use in comparison to illustrate the difference between an old Earth and a young Earth?

          • tz1

            Define “Day”.
            If you say it is a measure of time as I would experience it, i.e. a tall candle would burn down a fixed number of inches, you’ve already said it isn’t that.
            If you say it is “whatever God means”, then my original point on “Yom” meaning an INDEFINITE period of time applies, so God is absolutely NOT defining “Day” as the average period to the same point as the earth rotates, or even sunset to sunset (as the OT would define it).
            Define “Day” or “Yom” very specifically, or you are just engaging in a semantic shell game where it means different things.

          • GLT

            “If you say it is “whatever God means”, then my original point on “Yom” meaning an INDEFINITE period of time applies,…”

            Wow, talk about missing the point completely. Let’s try again. Do you believe an omnipotent God needs the sun in order to calculate a literal 24 hour day as we understand it? Do you believe a period of 24 hours as we now experience could not be used by an omnipotent God prior to the existence of the sun?

            “so God is absolutely NOT defining “Day” as the average period to the same point as the earth rotates,…”

            Then why did he inspire the writer of Genesis to have the context of Genesis 1 reflect a 24 hour day? ‘There was evening and morning, the first day.’ How does that reflect a vast span of time? You will be hard pressed to find a Hebrew scholar who will not tell you that a 24 hour day as we know it is clearly reflected in the text of Genesis 1. If you do not like that fact, take it up with a Hebrew scholar.

            “Define “Day” or “Yom” very specifically, or you are just engaging in a semantic shell game where it means different things.”

            Like I said, investigate what the Hebrew scholars say.

            It would do you a lot of good to do some basic research into hermenuetics and the art of Biblical exegesis before getting into these types of exchanges. It is obvious you do not have that basic knowledge at this point.

          • tz1

            How about “day” or “yom” – one syllable – is much simpler to write than period, or “some undefined period of time”.

            I didn’t miss the point. You still haven’t defined “Day” or if you define it as 24 hours, he didn’t create the measure of the day before creating the actual day and night.

            And what does evening and morning which apply to the days mean in hebrew?

          • swordfish

            “I believe in a rational God who created the heavens and the Earth and did so in six literal days. […]”

            How do you know any of this is true?

          • swordfish

            “What is the evidence and how does it show the Earth, etc., is far more than 6,000 years old?”

            The stratiographic record (Rock layers) and radiometric dating (Tens of thousands of measurements have been made).

            But you’re claiming it’s only around 6,000 years old, so to disprove that, you could consider that there are bristlecone pines in California which predate Noah’s flood (according to counting growth rings), 20 million years-worth of annual varve sediments in the Green river, 45,000 layers of annual algae blooms at the bottom of Lake Suigetsu in Japan, 40,000 annual layers of ice in Antarctica, and the fact that the Earth’s rotation is gradually slowing by about 1 second in 50,000 years, meaning that there were more days in a year in the past and this has been measured by studies of rings on rugose coral fossils that were independently estimated to be 370 million years old, revealing that when they were alive, there were about 400 days in the year.

            I could go on copy-n-pasting from science sites, but there’s nothing to stop you looking at these sites anyway.

          • Ken Wolgemuth

            Tom Gilson and others,
            I am a Christian geologist and my speciality is geochemistry, the branch that handles radiometric dating. Tom, please give me a call. We do need all of your help to guide the church toward the truth in Creation. So many here are told that the radiometric methods are built on assumptions, which means to believe in something that has no evidence. That is simply false for us as geologists. All of the methods are tested over and over and over again. We just published a paper about tree rings and Suigetsu varves, but the rules say we cannot promote anything here. So Tom, please contact me so you can write articles that demonstrate the earth is older that 10,000 years. Tree rings go back to 14,000 years, and Lake Suigetsu to 50,000 years. Ken Wolgemuth, Founder, Solid Rock Lectures, wolgemuth2@aol.com 918-852-3082. Please help with this division caused by YECism. It does drive people away from faith, and Christianity is bloodied at the Grand Canyon, by that organization you referred to.

          • swordfish

            Thank you for commenting, Ken. By my reading of his article, I’m not sure Tom Wilson is particularly interested in the scientific evidence though.

  • tz1

    Even “evolution” is badly argued as neither side wants to confront the actual science, see “Evolution 2-0-Breaking-Deadlock-Between” (use googe and do read the Amazon sample at least).
    There is a real question if “Yom” – IN CONTEXT – means day or era.
    The more severe problem is we don’t spend time viewing ourselves in the light of the Sermon on the Mount – that might convict us! – but instead dwell on uncertain minutiae that are irrelevant to Christ’s crucifixion and ressurection.

    • m-nj

      Actually, you need to look beyond just Yom in Genesis. The 6 x 24 hr days of work followed by 1 x 24 hr day of rest is quoted as the factual basis for the week and Sabbath when the Law is given in Exodus and Deuteronomy. Note that it says we shall work 6 DAYS and rest one DAY, just as the Lord worked six DAYS and rested on the seventh… it doesn’t say work six indeterminant periods and rest one indeterminant period.

      • tz1

        Amazing that an omnipotent God had to rest.

        • GLT

          Does rest only need to occur due to tiredness?

          • swordfish

            “Does rest only need to occur due to tiredness?”

            Yes, unless you can think of another reason.

  • Kevin Quillen

    “so let the specialists study it.” Shall we take this approach to all other doctrines? Which “specialists” should I listen too? The ones who say we will be raptured out of here soon? The ones who say there is no rapture? No, the answer is personal study. One view says Christ is a liar. Christ said that at the BEGINNING God created man. What beginning? Genesis 1:1 “in the beginning”. Old earth creationists say this is not true and so make Christ out to be a liar. Evidence for young earth is overwhelming. Old earth theory is based on ASSUMPTIONS!

    • No, we shouldn’t take this approach to all doctrines. The only doctrines that should be regarded as open questions are those that have in fact proved themselves to be open questions. That proof comes when serious, godly, Bible-believing students of the word disagree, and especially in the very rare cases when a specialist’s knowledge is required to decide the question, and where the specialists’ views have not yet coalesced into clear focus.

      Scholars of Ancient Near East language and literature tend to say that it’s not doing the Bible justice to read it with our contemporary mindset, given that it wasn’t written for 21st century readers (or even close to that). We need to see how their work on the intended meaning of the text comes out. Our perspective on the text needs to be informed by a true understanding of the original readers’ perspective on the text. Until we have that understanding we should hold all dogmatic conclusions in abeyance.

      But here’s the better, quicker way to say all that: If there are good reasons to believe we don’t know for sure, then we should act as if we do.

      • What beginning? Kevin, it’s just not the case that there can only be one. I think Christ was referring to the beginning of man, not the beginning of everything. Otherwise you’d have to say God created man at the same moment he said, “Let there be light”!

        • Kevin Quillen

          come on man! you know that is a cheap shot. when one begins to build something, it just the beginning, and is silly to say that the beginning and completion is the same time.

        • GLT

          “I think Christ was referring to the beginning of man, not the beginning of everything. Otherwise you’d have to say God created man at the same moment he said, “Let there be light”!”

          I’m sorry, Tom, but that is simply poor hermeneutics and even worse exegesis. You are much better than this, step back and think this through.

      • Kevin Quillen

        “Scholars of Ancient Near East language and literature tend to say that it’s not doing the Bible justice to read it with our contemporary mindset, given that it wasn’t written for 21st century readers (or even close to that). We need to see how their work on the intended meaning of the text comes out. Our perspective on the text needs to be informed by a true understanding of the original readers’ perspective on the text.”
        Tom, Do you apply the above quote by you, to your view of eschatology? If you do, then you would be a Preterist, as I am. Your logic here is the reason I am.

  • Andrew Mason

    I agree evolution drives many from the church – the science used to disprove Genesis also rejects the New Testament – virgin births, resurrections and other such things are scientifically impossible. If science – as defined by current academics, is the ultimate arbiter of Truth, then Christianity is in trouble. I disagree that the YEC v evolution debate is responsible for dividing Christians. Yes people do disagree, but don’t they disagree about any compromise, as well as any subject that permits various positions e.g. tribulation theology?

    You contend that scientific evidence suggesting an older universe is ignored by YECers, but what about evidence for a younger universe? What of the claims by evolutionists that it’s misleading or misinterpreted etc? I get that you have your own view, and that you reject the notion that you’ve compromised anything, but not everyone shares your logic.

    You give the example of a man approaching you and pleading with you to stop YECers who were driving people away from the Christianity they were attempting to preach. The problem is YECers also draw people to Christ who’ve reject Him because an evolutionary interpretation of Scripture precludes acceptance. And what of evolutionary Christians who teach evolution then wonder why their kids have been driven away from Christ?

    You contend that YECers are more likely to criticise evolutionist Christians, and that may be true, but again isn’t that true of all compromisers? While I agree it shouldn’t be a passfail issue – the criminal sentence to die on the cross next to Christ was told he’d be in Paradise that day (faith alone saved him), it is a toxic one. How can you hold a belief that denies Christ, and be a Christian at the same time? Yes again I get you don’t see it this way, but do you understand the YEC view? By contrast evolutionists see YECers as illiterate and anti-scientific. Familiarity may bridge these assumptions, but they do complicate the situation. I’ve been friends with a couple of evolutionary Christians for years, and I don’t question their faith despite the differences, but both definitely fall on the liberal side of the scale. By contrast I’m very conservative and unequivocally YEC. We’ve discussed the subject at times but have to agree to disagree. For me Genesis underpins the Truth of Christ. If Genesis is a lie then Jesus is a liar, and Christians are the most pitiful of all men. Indeed a mere 2 verses after Paul’s conditional condemnation of Christians he references Genesis.

    I do find it interesting you reference Hugh Ross. I’ve encountered his name on a variety of occasions and he seems … toxic. He preaches evolution, seeks to show how the Bible accords with this Truth, and is exceedingly sloppy in his treatment of Scripture. Given his target audience is frequently unfamiliar with the details of the scientific debate it is fairly easy for him to act as priest or authority figure. His articles would also appear to open the door to other compromises. An article by one of his RtB peers suggests overpopulation is an issue of concern to God, and that homosexuality might be God’s cure for this issue. Obviously this directly opposes what Scripture teaches, but Ross’ colleague has an answer to this. He suggests that rather than homosexuality being contrary to Scripture, perhaps it is merely bad forms of homosexuality – as is the argument of homosexual activists. They contend that pëdërasty, rapë, or male pröstitutiön are what God hates, and yet why assume God deems these any more of less offensive than homosexuality in general? In the Leviticus 18 list of sexual offenses neither rapë nor pëdërasty nor pröstitutiön are mentioned, yet both homosexuality and bëstiality are. Sorry something of a digression but hopefully it illustrates the slippery slope in practice.

    While I obviously agree with you that Ross could be wrong, and yes I concur that Ham could be mistaken, at least to some degree, I disagree that only an expert can make dogmatic YEC assertions. Are evolutionary assertions any less dogmatic? You refused the AiG raft trip on the grounds you lack the geologic expertise to assess their claims, yet aren’t you asserting the the evolutionary claim is valid? What are your grounds for asserting one and not the other? And in the offchance I’m mistaken and you instead refuse to take a position on the age of the Grand Canyon, or the method of its formation, aren’t you being militantly ignorant?

    Humility is a good start, but I contend deliberate ignorance isn’t a matter of humility. I used to follow the YEC v evolution debate but ended up getting tired of it. These days it feels like the first century or so and Christians battling the Truth as propounded by Pagan experts, and with non experts spouting evolutionary mantras at appropriate times.

    Specialists study things, but at the end of the day non-experts have to decide which claims they accept. We may not have the expertise to study all things, and reconcile (or reject) all conflicting data, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have a responsibility to study what the Bible says, to look at the evidence, and make conclusions.

    Unity is great, but sometimes division is better. Consider the denominations currently rent by the homosexual debate. Is it better they remain united despite their irreconciliable differences, or to split into a Christ following and Bible denying sodomy espousing denominations? What would Christ do? Is the YEC v evolution debate an issue of this magnitude? Do the different positions lead to different outcomes and conclusions? I think you have some valid points, but overall your article is flawed.

    • Actually, no, Andrew. There’s a difference between old earth and evolution. Ross doesn’t believe in evolution. None of what I wrote is about believing in evolution, as you imply it is.

      I’ll look up that controversial article on Ross’s website today.

      • Andrew Mason

        Ross doesn’t believe in evolution? Are we talking about the same Ross? As far as I can tell about the only parts of evolutionary theory that he and his colleagues reject is the non-existence of God, and that Adam evolved from a monkey.

        If it helps I think this was the article I skimmed earlier: https://www(dot)reasons(dot)org/explore/blogs/average-joe's-corner/read/average-joe's-corner/2007/07/27/more-on-the-gay-gene-debate

        The article advances the argument as if a mere intellectual possibility, but given how deviant it is, and the points raised, it strikes me as an attempt to push a position without actually committing to it. The same chap also suggested there may be a genetic basis to adultery, which provides yet more grounds for relegating biblical morality to the wastebasket, or rejecting God in His entirety. Perhaps I just have a knack for stumbling over the most questionable of the RTB articles but …

        • I liked a lot of what you wrote Andrew, thanks. On this question though, it is true, Ross does not endorse evolution, he endorses the idea that God specially created all animals etc (so he definitely endorses intelligent design arguments, while on the other hand bashing the Intelligent Design movement, I think because they are not popular and Ross always wants to be popular and a accepted as possible), but he follows to a T nearly every sequence of events of the mainstream evolutionary timeline. He just makes God always responsible at those points. I call this a form of, if you’ve heard the term from Stephen Gould, a Creationist form of Punctuated Equilibrium.

        • m-nj

          Excellent reply. Ross is or is very close to being a theistic evolutionist (which is quite the oxymoron, given that evolution properly understood is supposed to be random and without external direction).

          He falls in line with a whole host of professed Christians who don’t want to look ignorant to their academic peers, and so place science in judgement of the Bible, rather than the other way around.

          • Very close? How close? Close means not there, so I don’t know what you’re actually saying.

  • Trilemma

    I started out believing in an old Earth. After spending time at Answers in Genesis, I became YEC. After looking at more evidence, I went back to old Earth. Now I view the first 11 chapters of Genesis as Hebrew myths, fables or legends and see no reason to reconcile them with science.

    Here’s two reasons to believe the Earth and universe are very old.

    1. The Earth has had so much radioactive decay that if it had all happened in the last 6400 years, there would have been so much heat generated that no life would be possible.

    2. If all the stars had been created only 6400 years ago, it would have taken over 4 years for Adam to see even one star. Even today, most of the Milky Way Galaxy and none of the other galaxies would not be seen.

  • Paul Trey

    To hold the OEC position one has to realize that on many deeper levels it is not compatible with scripture and it undermines essential doctrines. For example, one must ignore Ex. 20: 11 where God again states ” for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the Earth…. And He rested on the seventh.” If you try to cram billions of years (was millions when I was in high school, but the improbability of evolution forced then to add more in hopes that more time would solve the issue of monkeys to man or of punctuated equilibrium actually happening as the is no actual proof of either.) into the Bible, you have to introduce death before Adam’s fall. Then one has to monkey around with death actually being a part of God’s original intent and that therefore death is a good thing. Not hard to see the conflict with scripture.
    I read one of High Ross’ books and also found him to be very descriptive (as well as a had theologian). For example, he makes a statement that the early Church father’s didn’t believe in a literal 24 hour day in creation. He leads the readers to believe they were OEC. If one takes the time to look up what the early Church father’s believed one finds that a couple of them “got in trouble” because they reasoned that if God spoke and it was, then why did it take a FULL 24 hours? Seems Ross will do anything to sway people to his view. There are a huge number of YEC scientists that I would, I, direct you to at ICR, CRS, CMI for starters.

  • m-nj

    As a PhD scientist, I would recommend a short book that takes a non-dogmatic, middle ground

    The Age of the Universe: What Are the Biblical Limits? 2nd Edition
    by Gorman Gray

    www amazon com/Age-Universe-What-Biblical-Limits/dp/0965594203

    I am swayed by his examination of the Hebrew that an old universe but a young biosphere is compatible with the scientific data while not undermining any core theological truths.

    • Ben Reese

      Interesting! Is the basic idea that Genesis 1:1 should be taken ‘apart’ (in a sense) from Genesis 1:2 onward?

  • A rabbi expressed it best. When God spoke through the prophets, He didn’t speak in scientific language with formulas and scientific evidence. He spoke so that the people of that day could understand. He spoke to an unlearned people in ways for them to understand His greater points – morality and adoration.

    • Irene Neuner

      Interesting but interesting also that God is got very specific in Genesis in that plants and animals were created after their kind and it was mentioned 11 times in the first chapter in a very brief history of Creation.

      Also is it possible that the men of that day were much brighter than their modern counterparts? For example needing no written language because their memories were nearly perfect?

      Have we been evolving or devolving? Have genetic mutations from Adams perfect genome been positive or negative?

      Most contemporary men have been dually brainwashed by evolutionary theories that they are unaware of it.

      • How did Genesis get specific over the plants and animals? Genesis doesn’t specify the bio chemistry. And no, we have not been devolving. They would have left written books about all sorts of things.

        • Biological evolution/devolution is not identical with cultural evolution/devolution.

          • Irene was speaking about men of Biblical age being “brighter” than modern counterparts. I assume she meant that there was a higher level of intellegence and sceientific knowledge. Frankly I don’t know what she meant. I find anyone who believes in the literal aging of the world from the Bible to be bizarre.

        • Irene Neuner

          According to the Bible “After their kind” was spoken or stated 11 times. Maybe it is more clarifying than specific. We write things down so we remember. I would suggest that for the first several thousand years mans memory was nearly perfect and he needed no written language. Then there was the great deluge. Do you think the flood is literal history?

          • Genesis or any other written document does not record anything like bio chemistry, mathematical equations, and calculus that such knowledge would have to be built on. Obviously God knows about those things and did not communicate it through the prophets. The prophets would not have understood. No one’s memory could be that perfect to know all of that in one’s head. And if they were so smart, why did they not write it down? They wrote Genesis down.

            Yes I believe there was some sort of flood but a flood that wiped out all of humanity and the animals except for what was on Noah’s ark? That’s really a tough one to believe literally.

  • Ben Reese

    As an ambivalent investigator myself, I’m curious about one thing at the moment. If God created the world over the course of millions of years (Hugh Ross’s and the author’s OE view) then he declared it good, even very good, correct? This was a time when no sin had entered the world (animal death is not considered a result of sin in this view). If so, then would it be safe to assume that when the *new* heavens and Earth are made, we’d expect a very similar state, which includes the disease and cancer found in fossils? Sounds weird right?

    Also consider Romans 8:21 – that creation is currently in bondage to decay (suggesting a time when it was free from decay). So did God create nature in bondage to decay? Or did it fall into decay post Fall? How can millions of years of decay be reconciled with a date of the Fall in the thousands of years ago?

    • That’s an interesting question in your first paragraph. I don’t know the answer, except I don’t think there’s any necessary connection between your premise and your conclusion, so I for one would not expect that.

      Your second paragraph expresses the most challenging biblical counter to the old earth view that I know of. This is one reason I say that though I lean strongly toward old earth creation — for other reasons, including both Bible and nature — I know I could still be wrong.

      • Ben Reese

        Hi Tom – thanks for the reply! Let me attempt to clarify my question/point in paragraph one with a syllogism:

        1. God created life over millions of years prior to man during which life experienced death, disease, and cancer.
        2. God called his creation on each ‘day’ “good”, and his sum of creation “very good”.
        3. Thus, God calls/considers disease and cancer to be “good” (and possibly”very good”).

        As I understand it, (and I may be misunderstanding) it logically follows in your view that God considers disease and cancer to be “good” parts of his created order. I would love your thoughts on that, and please correct me if I misunderstand any part of your view.

        • No, actually, point 3 should be, “God may, in certain contexts but not necessarily all, call disease and cancer to be part of a creation that is good or very good overall.”

          I’m not sure that cancer existed before the Fall, though, even on an old-earth scenario. Maybe it’s been found in some fossils. If so, your point 3 still needs to be re-written.

          I don’t think it’s necessarily true that death is necessarily evil for animals. It’s part of what makes nature what it is. A herbivore lion is not a real lion; it’s not a good lion. It’s something else.

          In the new world to come, God will change everything. That doesn’t mean lions will be herbivores; they might just not eat animals humans care about (lambs). I don’t know. And I don’t know the state of the world before the Fall, which is part of the point I’m making in the article above. Neither do you; not really. God didn’t detail that. It’s tempting to read something into the text, but eisegesis is a temptation to walk away from. To run from, really.

          Clearly human death wasn’t in God’s plan, except as the result of sin; but humans are different. We alone are created in God’s image. We alone have a spiritual nature, and free will, and moral responsibility for our actions, and much more. So human death is certainly different from animal death. I don’t know that in a pre-fall world, animal death would have been not-good. Do you know that? How?

          • Ben Reese

            Yes disease and cancer is certainly pre-Fall in your view – just ask paleontologists about evidence of diseases and cancer in dinosaur bones etc. Interesting addendum to point 3, and I can agree that not all cases of disease/cancer are necessarily good, as humans weren’t intended for disease and cancer, much like death. It’s weird, however, to think that since death and cancer (in principle but not universally) are good or very good, we may see them in heaven (why not, since they aren’t a result of sin?)

            I also think it’s not necessarily bad that animals are carnivorous or that animal death is bad, so I don’t consider that too deeply when pondering the age of creation 😉

            Your suggestion that a lion is “good” when it is acting in accordance with a carnivorous nature seems to ignore Genesis 1:29-30, where God appears to make all animals herbivores. After all, not all creatures with sharp claws/teeth are carnivores (ex. pandas). Perhaps you interpret that verse differently?

            Finally, I agree that eisegesis is dangerous and must be avoided. From my investigation, and I certainly don’t intend to slander, but as I’ve investigated the claims of OECs including Hugh Ross, the assumption always seems to be that our understanding of the age of earth/creation is certain, and it’s our job to figure out how to interpret Scripture in light of what we “know”. I’m not a strict Biblical literalist (David did NOT float on his bed in a sea of tears ala Psalm 6:6) yet how often do OECs question the assumptions upon which their views are built? I’d love to see a column by yourself or another contributor discussing the assumptions that BOTH sides make when examining the physical evidence of the possible age of creation, and perhaps humble both sides into agreeing that they MIGHT not have the perfect interpretation of Scripture 🙂

          • Genesis 1:29-30 does seem to support the herbivore idea. I’ll grant that.

          • Irene Neuner

            You know an interesting thing about fossils …that any common man can comprehend …especially one who has observed nature work …is that they must be rapidly buried deep away from oxygen to fossilize or be preserved without decay.

            Scavengers, bugs, worms, bateria and weather elements destroy organic structures with rapidity.

  • William

    Okay – I’d like to propose another option – that both sides of this argument are wrong… and right. I would like the experts in this debate to respond to this – that the heavens and the earth were actually created before there was day 1 since day and night came after the heavens and earth were made (this is pretty clear in the first 3 verses). Therefore, the heavens and earth could have been in existence for an undetermined amount of time before the rest of creation was done. With this, the actual waters and land under them could be old, while the living parts of creation created during the other days are young. The verses detailing the appearance of land do not say that land was created, but that it appears by the moving apart of the waters – so the land was already there before that point.
    When it comes to dating non-living materials, like the earth and radioactivity, maybe there is some old age to it, but then to attribute that same age to life or geological formations is wrong. Just because the ingredients used to make something are a certain age doesn’t mean that what was made is that age. New land is being formed in Hawaii from old materials under the earth, we can’t date the ingredients and then assume it’s been in that new form all that time. Are scientists measuring what they think they are measuring?
    As far as God creating everything in 6 days, I have no doubts. He can do whatever He pleases. I’d rather err on the side of trusting God’s word than on man’s science stating something contrary to it. Too many people have put their reputations and personal welfare ahead of integrity and genuine truth-seeking. It took over 2000 years to correct the wrong science of a geocentric universe – something accepted by the educated world at the time and that had infiltrated and polluted church doctrine (despite no biblical support for it) and it was people’s pride that tried to suppress actual observed facts. This kind of pride still gets in the way today and there are numerous other examples of truth being shunned because of what it means to those in power (handwashing was rejected by healthcare leaders long ago because they didn’t want to accept the implications that their hands were spreading disease – their reputation was more important and they responded out of fear and more people died because of that delay in acceptance of the truth).
    All that being said, this isn’t a deal-breaker for me and my brothers and sisters in Christ. I do like learning more about this topic and hope that there is more dialogue among the experts in these fields of science because it seems that part of the issue is that the major players in these young/old camps (Reasons to Believe, Institute for Creation Research, Creation Ministries International) are not coming together to examine their findings and questions. They really need to meet up more and work together and listen to each other. If they are doing that, I’m not aware of it.

  • GLT

    “It separates us, and it drives people from the faith.”

    If the idea of a young Earth drives people from the faith one is forced to ask, into what, exactly, are they putting their faith?

    • Jesus Christ as revealed throughout the entire Bible, first to last.

      I understand many people think there is a contradiction there. I am saying here that the young earth interpretation of the Bible is not necessarily the one the Bible itself intended. In that case, we’re still talking about a very biblical faith. I’m also saying that we can trust Christ as Savior whether God created the Earth a long time ago or more recently.

      • GLT

        “I am saying here that the young earth interpretation of the Bible is not necessarily the one the Bible itself intended.”

        First I wish to make it clear I am not one who insists an individual hold a young Earth position. However, I must agree with the argument that a straight forward reading of Genesis 1 leads one to the conclusion that God created the heavens and the Earth in six literal 24 hour days. I also have come to the conclusion; after holding to an old Earth position for most of my Christian walk; that the evidence supporting an old Earth argument is tenuous at best as it depends solely on a long list of presuppositions. I also see it as dangerous to start from a position that science is correct in its pronouncements and therefore Christians must strive to make the Bible align with science. Science is not the fount of all knowledge as many seem to think but simply a tool used by man in an attempt to understand the world around him. As such, Christians should always put the Word of God first and everything else, including science, must be viewed in its light and not vice versa.

        “I’m also saying that we can trust Christ as Savior whether God created the Earth a long time ago or more recently.”

        I agree completely.

        • Ben Reese

          Well said GLT! I said basically the same thing to Tom as well. The OECs must examine the assumptions and presuppositions that undergird much of secular science to which they strongly hold, especially considering how hostile secular science has been to the Biblical world view in the last century and a half. Uniformitarianism to name just one assumption undergirds most of geology, yet is now accepted to not be universally true (dinos died by catastrophic asteroid collision). This assumption was key in creating the millions of years of geological time necessary for Darwinism, without which Darwinism may not have gained much popularity.

          • GLT

            Thank you, Ben.

            I think it is sometimes lost on many Christians that the rise of humanism in the 17th and 18th centuries; with its rejection of the idea of an omnipotent God being the force behind our existence and the emergence of scientific naturalism demanding long ages for the history of the Earth; was not a mere coincidence but was, in fact, an inevitable confluence of ideas. Once God was removed from the equation science had to have long ages to support its narrative of uniformitarianism being the guiding principle of geological forces and changes while descent from a common ancestor was being promoted as the guiding principle of the formation and growth of life in all its forms. Prior to this synthesis of the narratives of humanism and scientific naturalism, science was seen, as Johannes Kepler said, as a way to think God’s thoughts after him. The idea there was a conflict between science and faith in God was not considered.

          • The so-called “warfare” between science and Christianity is a myth invented primarily by Andrew Dickson White and John William Draper, who wrote of it in “histories” that every serious historian of science now repudiates as being made up out of whole cloth. It’s one of the more harmful deceptions ever foisted on the world.

          • GLT

            “The so-called “warfare” between science and Christianity is a myth,…”

            Yes, I am aware of that and fully agree it is a harmful deception. It creates the false impression one must choose to follow God or follow science as it presents the two as incompatible.

          • swordfish

            Says someone who argues against evolution and in favour of YEC. Ironic!

          • GLT

            “Ironic!”

            Really? How is it ironic?

  • Irene Neuner

    Words and the order in which they are placed and the prose into which they are combined should be received by the reader with deafening reverence when “and God said” is how the sentence or paragraph begins.

    “And God said, Let there be light…,and God called the light day…,and God said let there be a firmament…,and God called the firmament Heaven…,and God said let the waters under the heaven…,and God called the dry land earth and the gathering together of the waters called he seas…,and God said let the earth bring forth grass…, and God said let there be lights in the firmament of Heaven…”

    I can recite the first four days from memory and I am wondering were do the millions and billions of years come in?

    I think that some people really may not be that well acquainted with the text. According to the text animals and man were created vegan and man was not given permission to eat animal flesh till after the flood.

    Finally wasn’t it the serpent who first challenged what God had said? “Hath God said…?”

  • Dan Alexander

    I got comfortable with the old earth view once I found out that science (creation) is now supporting the sequence of events of the development of the earth in Genesis 1. I realized this from watching the History Channel documentary on “How the Earth was Made- 2008” which you can find on YouTube. The key is understanding the narrative is told from the viewpoint of the surface of the earth (Genesis 1:2) and the atmosphere changes from dark cloud (clarified in Job 38:9), to haze, to clear over the first 4 days, followed by the Cambrian explosion of life, the survival of the birds from the extinction of the dinosaurs (Day 5), and the creation of the mammals that are important to man and then the creation of man (Day 6). DNA analysis supports an actual adam and eve and there are papers that support the idea of Eden being the valley of the current day Persian Gulf during the last ice age. With so much evidence supporting Genesis, it wasn’t hard to realize we should re-evaluate the length of the days in early Genesis as well as understand the arguments for gaps in the genealogies. RTB supporter now.

    • GLT

      “The key is understanding the narrative is told from the viewpoint of the surface of the earth,…”

      You’re simply stating the long refuted Gap Theory. I would suggest you refer to Hebrew and Biblical scholars when determining the context of the narrative and the exegesis of yom in Genesis, not a youtube video.

      • Dan Alexander

        Genesis 1:2 clearly says that the earth was covered in darkness and the Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters. So the point of view for the narrative of Genesis 1 is from the surface of the earth. That has nothing to do w the arguements on whether Yom can mean a long period of time or not.

        Science has figured out the conditions on early earth match those in Genesis 1 about 3.9 billion years ago. The sequence that follows is correct per what science has figured out. The fact that science now supports the claims of Genesis 1-3 happening, just more than a few thousand years ago is a big deal.

        If you don’t want to use it for evangelism, that’s your decision, but it helps our credibility and evangelism to show that creation now testifies that there is a God and we can know it’s the God of the Bible because the Bible got Creation correct.

        • GLT

          “Genesis 1:2 clearly says that the earth was covered in darkness and the Spirit was hovering over the surface of the waters.”

          And Genesis 1:1 says; In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. There is nothing to indicate a gap between Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 1:2 if that is what you are implying.

          “Science has figured out the conditions on early earth match those in Genesis 1:2 about 3.9 billion years ago. The sequence that follows is correct per what science has figured out. The fact that science now supports the claims of Genesis 1-3 happening, just more than a few thousand years ago is a big deal.”

          Seriously, I have no idea what you’re trying to say here. I don’t know if you are you arguing in favour of a young age for the Earth or for an ancient Earth as it seems you are going in both directions at the same time. I think we may be in agreement but your comments are somewhat confusing. It would appear you are supporting the idea that the condition of the earth described in Genesis 1:2 occurred 3.9 billion years ago while at the same time saying science supports the claims of Genesis 1-3 happening a few thousand years ago. Would you mind clarifying?

          • Dan Alexander

            GLT,

            Thank you for your kind reply. Hopefully I can make this clear. I’ve done a lot of research on this to be confident about the evidence and what it means. This is a long reply but hopefully it will clarify things.

            What is missing from the argument on old earth vs young earth is that OE is also trying to point out that science ( Old earth creation) is now giving evidence that the creation of the universe from nothing, sequence of Genesis 1, Adam & Eve, Garden of Eden are all correct. Because they are correct, we can give solid answers to the questions “How do you know there is a God?” and “How do you know its the God of the Bible?”. That’s a really big deal in our current culture and that’s why this stuff matters. We are all still saved through Faith in Christ regardless of our view on how old things are.

            If we (Old Earth Creationists) could make a good argument from science that the earth/universe were a few thousand years old, we would love to do that, but we’re not able to at this time – and we have definitely considered the arguments made trying to show dating techniques are wrong.

            The creation of the universe from nothing confirmed by science (Big Bang) requires a creator God. You can’t get something from nothing without a creator God. Its the oldest argument for the existence of God there is and it still holds true. Even time has a beginning. Atheist scientists really don’t like the universe having a beginning because they know it requires God. The bible is the only holy book that called the shot on creation of the universe from nothing (Genesis 1:1) and only the bible talks about God acting before the beginning of time – so even if it happened 13.8 BYA, it means that there is a God and its either the God of the Bible or some unknown god, but not some other religion.

            Then, it turns out the sequence of Genesis 1 is correct from the point of view of the surface of the earth. The earth was covered in thick, dark, cloudy atmosphere and covered with water (Genesis 1:2), the atmosphere did thin so light could get to the surface (Day 1), The atmosphere thinned some more so there was sky between the oceans and the haze/cloud cover above (Day 2), the land rose from the oceans (seems to have started about 3.2 BYA), photosynthesis from algae put enough oxygen in the atmosphere for an ozone layer, and there was some form of vegetation covering the land by about 1.5 BYA (Day 3), Photosynthesis continued putting oxygen in the air, clearing the haze so that the sun, moon, and stars appeared in the sky and could be seen from the surface for the first time by about 700MM years ago (Day 4). With the rise in oxygen, sea creatures appeared suddenly with great diversity and abundance about 550 MMYA. The birds are the notable creatures beneficial to man that survived the extinction event that wiped out the dinosaurs about 65 MM years ago- which is why Day 5 says sea creatures and birds but doesn’t mention the four legged dinosaurs. Finally domesticated animals beneficial to man and then man were created in the recent past (but still more than a few thousand years ago – really do wish we could argue for creation of man just a few thousand years ago as this means the genealogies had to have gaps. There is a good basis for saying they had gaps but I wish we didn’t have to do that) (Day 6). DNA analysis shows there really was an Adam and an Eve and It really looks like the bottom of today’s Persian Gulf matches the description of the Garden of Eden during the last ice age. So we can say that creation is now telling us there is a God and its the God of the bible – even if it happened more than a few thousand years ago.

            We get that all this means there was animal death before Adam and Eve, but apparently man was put here to be exposed to evil and suffering (not to have to experience it – sin caused us to have to experience suffering and death). The fact that Satan was in the garden means we were being exposed to evil and suffering. Also, not sure how Adam and Eve would have known what death is if they had not seen animals die. I guess it helps prepare us for heaven somehow, but that is just my personal guess.

            I’ve been part of Reasons to Believe for several years now, and have done my own investigation as well – even bought a subscription to Nature Journal to check the science sources a couple years ago. I used to want to refute the dating techniques and didn’t think the Big Bang mattered if we couldn’t then show that God was the God of the bible, but we can do that now. And that’s why I’m ok with the universe and earth being older than a few thousand years.

          • Dan Alexander

            GLT,
            Thank you for your kind response. Hopefully I can make this clear. This is a long response but hopefully worth the time to read.

            The thing that is missing from these debates on young earth vs old earth creation is that the old earth creationists are trying to point out that science (creation) is now providing evidence that supports the events of Genesis 1-3 – which then gives us the ability to answer the questions “How do we know there is a God?” and “How do we know its the God of the Bible?” without just saying “because the Bible tells me so”. Young earthers are also trying to use evidence from creation (flood) but it doesn’t hold up as well. We also look at the Hebrew text and think its ok for the days in early Genesis to be long periods of time. I know there is disagreement on whether the Hebrew is really ok with that and I don’t pretend to be a Hebrew scholar. I have done enough research to confirm what people like Dr Ross at RTB are saying about Genesis being correct.

            The oldest argument for the existence of God is that if the universe were created, there has to be a Creator God. You can’t get something from nothing otherwise and its true whether the universe began a few thousand years ago or 13.8 BYA. Atheist scientists don’t like the idea of a beginning to the universe as they know it is a solid argument for God. Scientists used to believe the universe was eternal and did not need God but had to change their view due to the evidence. Time itself had a beginning. The bible is the only Holy Book that claims the universe (space, time, matter, and energy) was created from nothing and that God acted before the beginning of time. So God is either the God of the bible or some unknown god.

            The bible gets the sequence of Genesis 1 correct, so we can argue that God is the God of the Bible. That’s a big deal in our current culture. The earth was covered in thick dark cloud and covered in water – the atmosphere thinned to let light in. The atmosphere thinned some more so there was cloud above and water over the surface of the earth. The land rose from the oceans starting about 3.2 BYA and there was vegetation of some kind growing on the land by 1-1.5 BYA. Photosynthesis put enough oxygen in the atmosphere to clear the air so the sun, moon, and stars appeared in the sky as viewed from the surface. With enough oxygen sea creatures appeared about 550MM years ago and the birds survived the extinction event about 65 MM years ago that wiped out the dinosaurs. Domesticated animals and man were made in the recent past. DNA analysis points to an actual Adam and Eve and it looks like the bottom of today’s Persian Gulf matches the description of Eden during the last ice age.

            I hope this helps explain the points the Old Earth creationists are trying to make. I know there are issues regarding animal death before the Fall, but I think we can be ok with that as well. This post is too long already so I’ll end here.

          • GLT

            Dan,

            This is frustrating, I just spent an hour composing and typing a response to your previous post which has been deleted meaning my response cannot be posted.

            I have run out of time now but will respond to your revised post later.

            God bless.

          • Dan Alexander

            I don’t know why my previous post was deleted. I didn’t do it.

  • Melanie Fyock

    Whenever we find areas of disagreement in the body of Christ (age of the earth, election & free will, end times, the nature of the afterlife) we should remember Christ’s prayer for us in John 17 and what it means that our Lord placed the key to the power of the gospel in the unity of His followers. Just think about how the Lord will move among us if we learn to put Jesus above our own understanding and interpretation of scripture. He made the provision for us but we can’t enter in as long as we make the basis of our fellowship anything other than Christ alone. I pray with our Lord that we would be one as the Father and Son.

  • Flyonaline

    Why can’t we put this into the perspective of it’s not going to be on the final exam?God is not overly concerned with how you understand how He did everything but is ultimately concerned with what you have done with the life He has given you in His Son Jesus. You will never understand the ENTIRE Bible but you do need to know what he is saying to you thru the Bible.

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